There is a place on the Gulf coast where millions of shark teeth are buried. I didn’t know of it until a few weeks ago, and over the weekend I waded out at low tide at Casperson Beach in Venice, Florida with a sacrificial spaghetti colander to find some. Many of the teeth locals find here are quite old; remnants left behind from sharks that once roamed the Gulf of Mexico. An older man waded out next to me with a shovel-sifter and stories of divers finding megalodon teeth 4 inches tall out of these waters. A dolphin came in close to catch a fish and eyed us on its way out. It was neat, and when I got home I took an old frame and left over fabric to display the day’s bounty.
I’m sitting behind a heavy wooden desk that’s older than I am at a job I feel ambivalent about. Large tattered binders filled with backlogged data flank me to my left. To my right sits an open mason jar half full of this morning’s coffee. Surely my lab manager would have a conniption if he saw it. A large, bare bulletin board glares at me from above my workstation reminding me I have yet to fill it. Others in the lab have theirs adorned with family photos, political comics and notes. It’s been 9 months, I really should put something up. Or maybe a plant. People like plants. But, as much as I’d like to make my space more personal, part of me wonders how long I’ll be here. Tacking things on a bulletin board implies longevity, something I’ve never exactly been great at. I moved to this sleepy town on the gulf coast to study a group of bottlenose dolphins inhabiting the bay here. It’s miles away from home in San Francisco, but I suppose that’s what comes with being a biologist who studies migratory marine mammals. You inadvertently turn into a wanderer of sorts. Living a semi-nomadic lifestyle has it’s perks. I’ve had the opportunity to research unheard of whales in the Caribbean, live on boats in frigid waters studying orcas, and come face-to face with blue whales and other behemoths of the sea.
But, as I sit here, I can sense a change coming. Something different. A turn in the tides, a tectonic shift of magnitude that I can feel down deep in my bones. Who knows what is ahead, but now feels like a good time to start documenting it all. And so… it begins.