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‘Treasure hunter’ unearths two massive megalodon teeth in Florida — in just one day

Capt. Michael Nastasio calls himself a “treasure hunter at heart.”

And although he spends “eight days a week” scouring the ocean floor for fossils, when he finds something cool, the feeling still “never gets old”

So on May 16, when he discovered a 6-inch megalodon tooth while diving in Venice, Florida, the feeling was incredible.

He was swimming along rows of sand when he saw some pieces of bone and “started to get excited.” Then, he noticed a shape appear.

“All of a sudden that tooth was just sitting there,” he said. “It was just staring at me like, ‘Hello.’ I could not believe it.”

Capt. Michael Nastasio runs Black Gold Fossil Charters and takes divers out to search for fossils every day, he said.
Capt. Michael Nastasio runs Black Gold Fossil Charters and takes divers out to search for fossils every day, he said.

But the only thing cooler than finding a tooth that large and in such good condition would be finding two.

He did.

“I was already on cloud nine, so when I found the second one and it was complete, my mind was blown,” he said.

He called Venice, which is located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, the “shark tooth capital of the world,” and said it’s common to find regular shark teeth there. But the teeth of prehistoric megalodons, the 50-59 foot apex predators that roamed the ocean up to 20 million years ago, according to the Natural History Museum of the United Kingdom, are much harder to find, he said.

Only four or five 6-inch megalodon teeth were found in the area during all of last year, he said. The other thing that makes the sea floor around Venice special is that the teeth found there are often well-preserved.

Nastasio runs Black Gold Fossil Charters and takes divers out on excursions every day to search for fossils. When he finds megalodon teeth, he keeps his favorites for his personal collection and sells the others to a local store.

He said he’s always loved looking for old artifacts and used to hunt for arrowheads as a kid, but the feeling of finding megalodon teeth is special.

“I’m the first human ever to touch them when they’re found,” he said.

A comparison of a Megalodon tooth next to a great white shark tooth. Megalodons were three times longer than the largest great white on record, according to the Natural History Museum of the UK.
A comparison of a Megalodon tooth next to a great white shark tooth. Megalodons were three times longer than the largest great white on record, according to the Natural History Museum of the UK.

Megalodons went extinct around 3.6 million years ago, according to the Natural History Museum, but that doesn’t stop Nastasio from picturing what it might be like to see one swim by every time he finds a tooth.

“Just trying to imagine these animals being out there, it’s just so hard to wrap your head around it,” he said.

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