VENICE, Fla. — Michael Nastasio has been diving for years off the shores of beaches in Venice, Florida. He's a charter captain with a knack for finding megalodon shark teeth.
Two weeks ago, he was on a dive. The last one in the water. And just minutes into that dive, he came across what experts call the "holy grail" of shark teeth finds: a 6-inch megalodon shark tooth.
"I got a little closer and realized it was the tooth I've been looking for for 10 years," Nastasio said.
Nastasio moved to the Tampa Bay area from Missouri. It was in Missouri he hunted for arrowheads. After moving to the sunshine state, a new hobby unearthed itself: finding shark teeth. He began working remotely and moved to Venice specifically for the teeth.
Nastasio can now add "member of the Venice 6-inch club" to his resume. A title, in the shark teeth hunting community, that comes with bragging rights, respect, and maybe a twinge of envy from those searching for the same.
"Finding a tooth that big is known as the holy grail of fossil hunting," store manager at Shark Frenzy Brittanie Hervas said. "Everyone wants to find a megalodon bigger than 6 inches, or at least hitting that 6-inch mark."
After finding such a rare discovery, Nastasio said it gives him, "a sense of satisfaction. Been waiting a long time for it."
When he came up from his dive, tooth in hand, he waited to measure it, worried it wouldn't hit the 6-inch mark, but it did.
For every inch long a megalodon shark tooth is, it's estimated to size the shark at ten feet. This means the 6-inch tooth Nastasio landed would be more than roughly 60 feet. That's about the size of a bowling lane.
This isn't even the first time this diver had an impressive find either. In October 2020, Nastasio found a 5-inch megalodon tooth, also off the shores of Venice.
Nastasio said he'll keep his 6-inch whooper. As for the 5-inch, it's for sale at Shark Frenzy, going for a couple of thousand dollars. Smaller teeth he has found are also for sale, filling an entire display case in the store.
Now if you're wondering why these giant teeth are in Venice, it's because the city was a nursery for megalodons millions of years ago.
"Megalodons are here in Venice because a long time ago, we had megalodons swimming in the ocean during what's known as the Miocene age," Hervas said.
"This is millions and millions of years ago. Fossil deposits actually went right offshore here, which is why Venice is known as the shark tooth capital of the world."