Beachcomber discoveries reveal area’s secret past


EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second in a series of stories about what local residents have found at the beach in Ponte Vedra. The first story ran in our June 13 edition.

Jacqueline Reimann caught the beachcombing bug right away after moving to Ponte Vedra from New Jersey during the ’90s. It soon became an addiction, nurtured by the frequent endorphin rushes she experienced every time she salvaged a shark’s tooth from the sand or snatched it from the clutches of an encroaching wave.

“Sharks’ teeth were all I knew about,” she says, “until a gentleman approached me on the beach one day and told me, ‘Pick up everything and anything that’s black, regardless of its size. You’ll be surprised at what you can find.’ I followed his advice, then went and got the books that were supposed to tell me what I had found. They didn’t help much. I still can’t figure out what everything is!”

Most of those black things she gathered up were teeth not from sharks, but from animals that inhabited this land eons ago. These weren’t possums and armadillos. Some of them were big animals that were hardly people-friendly.

In ages past, this place was a jungle! Go stand out in your yard and imagine the clock rolling back 20,000 years. You’d better be equipped with a spear because — if you’re not — it’s likely you’re going to get eaten! On the flip side, if you can use that spear well, you’ve got a nice menu to choose from.

What was the most unusual tooth she found? She produces a fossilized tooth that’s obviously a molar.

“I thought this was from an animal,” she says. “But upon closer inspection, it looks like there is a crown over the tooth. Some of it is broken off, exposing the tooth underneath. I researched this online to find out when crowns were first made and learned that applying tooth crowns dates back to ancient times, and different materials were used when doing so. I can't come to any conclusion other than that this is the tooth of a human being!”

Perhaps she is correct. After all, each incoming wave is like turning the page of a mystery novel, delivering more questions than answers. So, who was the owner of this tooth? Was it a swimmer who drowned? An Indian who once resided here whose grave site was consumed by the waves? A passenger on an ancient ship that sank to the bottom of the ocean? Whatever the case, one thing is for certain: It’s another tasty morsel of unsolved riddles for area residents to munch upon!