Diving the Bat Islands in Costa Rica can be an adrenaline filled ride. Leaving from the costal port of Playas del Coco in the Guanacaste region, the ride is 30 miles and will take the better part of an hour (with Rocket Frog’s high speed dive boats) before divers reach the Santa Rosa National Park. After descending into the bowl divers will constantly be looking over their shoulders and into the depths for bull sharks. On an ‘off-day’, divers may not actually encounter a single shark and will be swimming around watching their own bubbles. Other species often emerge include spotted eagle rays, spadefish and cornetfish. However, when I had this exact experience while diving the ‘Big Scare’ I found myself looking to the rock bottom looking for shark teeth.
The dive site is notorious for the ability of finding teeth, some have found up to 10 on one dive. It takes time and a lot of searching yet I managed to find 5 teeth of various sizes. Some were fresh and still had blood as they detached from the shark’s mouth, others were old and coated with algae. Be careful when putting the teeth in your wetsuit, they may either scratch you or rip your expensive suit. Try and bring a small bottle to put the teeth in.
Shark teeth are sold across the world, either illegally or the buyers are not aware that a shark was in fact killed for its teeth. It is far more gratifying to actually find your own. One dive site in North Carolina is famous for Megalodon teeth, some reach 6 inches in length and when they are over 10,000 years old they turn black and are classed as fossilised.
Once divers or fossil hunters return from dives or the beach it is pleasing to be able to clean the teeth and put them on display. The easiest and possibly most effective method to clean shark teeth it to soak them in a solution of vinegar and water. 1/2 a cup of vinegar, 1/2 water and place your shark teeth inside of it. Allow them for sit for 3 – 5 hours before removing them.
When your shark teeth are done soaking, take them out and rinse them under some fresh water to remove the smell and stain of vinegar. Depending on the type of vinegar you use to clean them, the liquid may cause discoloration, which is something no collector wants to see happen to their shark teeth.
The one downfall if you are not remaining in Costa Rica is that you may encounter problems taking shark teeth home with you. We recommend checking with airport authorities to ensure you are permitted in taking home these small souvenirs.