Man Finds Massive Megalodon Tooth While Diving in Florida Waters

A Florida man found a massive fossilized megalodon tooth while diving in the sea, months after he was attacked by an alligator.

Jeffrey Heim, from Tampa, was lucky to be alive after walking away from a gator attack in the Myakka River, which left him with 34 staples in his head, a fractured skull and puncture wounds in his hands earlier this year.

It didn't stop him from getting back into the water, as after recovering Heim continued to dive looking for shark and megalodon teeth, which he turns into jewelry for his business, SHRKco.

It paid off as he recently stumbled upon the "best" find of his life—a fossilized tooth nearly as big as his hand, from one of the most fearsome predators of the sea.

Speaking to Newsweek, Heim said: "On May 30, 2021, I almost died while diving for shark teeth after an alligator bite skull fracture. One month later, I was back diving and was lucky enough to find a profound megalodon tooth: a coveted six incher since named: The Redemption Tooth.

"This tooth was from a 60-foot shark and most veteran shark tooth hunters haven't found a full 6 incher and I'll probably never find another one again."

He shared a clip to his TikTok account @wildernessjeff, showing him on the seabed when he finds the incredible relic, which can be seen here.

"2 months ago I was almost killed by an alligator while diving for these. I just found the best of my life," he captioned the video, shared last month. He didn't reveal exactly what part of the ocean he found the tooth in, but added the hashtag "Fl," indicating he was off the sunshine state coast.

In the comments, he confirmed it was a "fossil megalodon shark tooth," adding this one wasn't for sale. His clip amassed nearly 800,000 views, as he shared a follow-up later that day of the tooth on dry land.

Showing off the fossil in all its splendor, he wrote: "2 months ago I almost died looking for these, last week I found this!"

He confirmed it was six inches long, saying in another video: "Very rare tooth from a MASSIVE 60+ foot, 20 million year old Megalodon shark."

Jeffrey Heim's megalodon tooth.
Jeffrey Heim's megalodon tooth. Heim, who makes jewellery with the teeth he finds, shared a clip of the discovery to TikTok. @wildernessjeff

Heim, who was 25 at the time of the gator attack in July, was diving for fossils in the Myakka River when the gator pounced.

He told local news outlet WTSP it felt as if he'd been hit by a boat. "I'm following the sand looking for the gravel. I come up and just get blasted. Felt like a propeller on a boat going 50 MPH. It pulled me down, pulled my mask off.

"I was in the water for a minute not even and it was an unprovoked attack. There's nothing I could've done. No gun no weapon," he's quoted as saying.

He vowed to keep diving after the attack, although he said he would probably avoid mating season, after theorizing the gator was a nine-foot female protecting her eggs.

Heim's dedication has paid off, as one of his most recent clips, shared on Thursday, showed a haul of six megalodon teeth, which he estimated were between 2-23 million years old.

Jeffrey Heim's megalodon tooth.
Jeffrey Heim's megalodon tooth. He miraculously survived an alligator attack while diving for teeth earlier this year. @wildernessjeff

"Preserving history... can you believe all of these Megalodons were found by us in one day?!" he captioned the clip.

Thousands of people commented on the original video of his super-sized find, in awe over its size.

Dave: "Can you imagine how massive that shark must have been. Damn!! Great find Jeff persistence pays off."

Sandy Billick raved: "Freaking amazing."

Although Wynema Wilson joked: "If I found a tooth that big I would be out the water immediately."

Lalamermaid27 added: "Ok that's worth fighting a gator for. Where were you?"

The megalodon, which went extinct around 3.6 million years ago, was one of the largest predators to have ever lived, with estimates suggesting it grew to up to 59 feet long.

Their mouths were lined with 276 teeth, some as big as 18cm long, according to the U.K.'s Natural History Museum.

It also explained why there are a plethora of teeth continually discovered, saying: "Almost all fossil remains of megalodon are teeth. Sharks continually produce teeth throughout their entire lives. Depending on what they eat, sharks lose a set of teeth every one to two weeks, getting through up to 40,000 teeth in their lifetime.

"This means that shark teeth are continuously raining down onto the ocean floor, increasing the chance that they will get fossilized. Teeth are also the hardest part of a shark's skeleton. While our bones are coated in the mineral calcium phosphate, shark skeletons are made entirely from softer cartilage like our nose and ears."

Update 9/24/21, 12:10 p.m. ET: This article was updated with comment from Heim.