Seven-foot shark captured off Ocean City beach

"Shark Tony" stands next to his catch on the 58th Street beach in Ocean City, NJ. on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012. He released the seven-foot thresher shark back into the water soon after.
"Shark Tony" stands next to his catch on the 58th Street beach in Ocean City, NJ. on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012. He released the seven-foot thresher shark back into the water soon after. (Mark Miedama/ Special to the Inquirer)
Posted: August 16, 2012

A South Jersey man on Wednesday pulled a seven-foot thresher shark from the waters just off the shore of Ocean City.

Just in time for Shark Week.

The man, known as "Shark Tony," landed the 7-foot long beast after hooking it from a kayak and backpaddling to the beach near the 59th Street Pier.

Mark Miedama, who worked as a member of the Ocean City beach patrol this summer, was sitting on the sand with friends about 7:30 p.m. waiting for Shark Tony to return to shore. Miedama noticed him struggling with a big catch.

"It was pretty frisky," Miedama said.

It took three men to bring the beast out of the water, Miedama said.

"It didn't want to be beached, for sure." Miedama said. "I helped him pull it up."

Nearly every night at dusk, Shark Tony paddles out into the ocean on his kayak with a bucket of chum, Miedama said.

Usually, Shark Tony's catch is limited to small sand sharks.

Not Wednesday.

"That's the biggest he's pulled up," Miedama said. "It was pretty intimidating."

Distinguished by a long tail fin used to stun prey, thresher sharks are solitary creatures and known to leap out of the water. Threshers are not considered dangerous to man and attacks are exceptionally rare.

Bill Kazmarck, a lifeguard who watches over the 58th Street beach and Miedama's friend, said it's common knowledge that sharks swim off the shore.

"It's their home, too," Kazmarck said. "People ask all the time if there are sharks out there. I'm honest with them. Of course there are. But if they wanted to attack, they'd attack every day

"They don't."

The waters remain safe, said Lt. Brian Booth of the beach patrol. The beach on Thursday remained crowded with vacationers and sunworshippers taking in the last days of summer.

"There were people in the water all day today because it was gorgeous," said Booth. "There's absolutely no cause for concern. There's fish all through the ocean and sharks are part of it. We went in today, so I'm not worried about it."

Kazmarck isn't rattled by the prospect of a shark encounter.

"You don't give 'em much thought," he said. "Otherwise, you'd scare yourself right out of the water."

Miedama concurred.

After Shark Tony released it back into the ocean, there was only one thing left to do.

"We went swimming," Miedama said.


Contact staff writer Sam Wood at 215-854-2796 or samwood@phillynews.com.

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