Fishing Notes / Dan Stanton : Veteran Fisherman Drags Up a Piece of Ancient History

A piece of history has surfaced at San Clemente Island.

Hank Church of Wilmington, a sport and commercial fisherman for 40 years, was fishing for shrimp aboard Capt. Tom Wright’s boat, the Iwalani.

Church sent his shrimp trap down to a sandy bottom at a depth of 1,000 feet, not knowing he would not only get a trap full of shrimp but a little part of history as well.

After leaving it on the bottom for several hours, Church and Wright brought up the wire trap and to their amazement a tooth was clinging to the mesh doop opening.


“Incredible,” Church said, “this has to be a prehistoric tooth.” He put the tooth, about the length of a man’s finger, into a large jar for safekeeping.

They contacted Yvetta Williams of The Sea in San Pedro, an expert in the field, who identified it as a Carcharodon Megalodona shark’s tooth, listed in fossil records as millions of years old.

Williams said there are identical teeth on display at the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History and at her museum/store in San Pedro.

One other tooth was recovered three years ago by Steve O’Donnell of San Pedro, who found it near the L.A. Harbor entrance while diving.


There is no slowing trend on the sportfishing front as Santa Monica Bay halibut have started an early fall run. Thanks to the abundance of squid, good fishing in local waters can be expected throughout the fall and winter.

If the catches in Santa Monica Bay this past week are an indication, anglers are catching limits on each trip.

At Marina del Rey Sportfishing, the Spitfire and Happyman had more than 50 flatties over the weekend.