P.J. Braun is known around his coastal city as the “shark man.” So it’s no surprise that he lived up to his name when he recently caught a seven-foot sand tiger shark in Sea Isle City, N.J.
According to Braun, the massive catch was his “biggest” one to date. The wild moment was caught on camera by Prospect Park Police Chief Dave Madonna, one of nearly 250 people who gathered to watch the remarkable fishing event unfold.
In the video, viewers can see Braun posing with the shark, dragging it back to the ocean by its tail fin, then releasing it back into the water.
This “definitely gained a lot of attention. I didn’t really expect this to end up on the news, but here we are, getting the opportunity to talk about sharks,” Braun said Wednesday morning during an interview.
Braun added that fishing is a passion that he loves. In addition, he loves teaching kids and others about the hobby.
Regarding his release of the sand tiger shark, he said, “Everyone’s obviously happy to see healthy release.”
He also added that he had kept his great-grandfather’s fishing rod, meaning the craft, so fishing is something that’s been a generational hobby in his family.
New Jersey man who caught tiger shark encourages people of all ages to pursue fishing
“Everyone’s always excited out there when we’re fishing, to see what we bring in,” he said. “And it’s great to get the kids involved, especially my younger cousins.”
Braun also said that in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with everyone “being inside” recently, “it’s been great to be outside and to be involving others and teaching them about fishing.
“It’s been great … and [it’s been] great for the sport,” he added.
Regarding whether or not he’s seen bigger sharks closer to shore recently, he replied, “This is the ocean. This is where sharks live.”
He added, “The sport has grown a lot. That’s why it may be getting [more] of the attention [lately].”
“This year we’ve caught a lot of bigger sharks. We’ve had a colder water season, so I do think that some of the bigger sharks are coming in and some of the smaller sharks are [staying further out],” said Braun.
He also said, “I’m not a scientist, but that’s just my fishing theory.” He added, “It’s the ocean, it’s where sharks live, it’s their home.”
Just north of New Jersey, sharks have beachgoers in Long Island hesitant to go swimming. However, they’re not after humans — they’re after fish.
A sand tiger shark nursery located just off the coast combined with bait fish close to shore could explain the encounters.
“Off the coast of Long Island there are lots of juvenile sand tiger sharks, a lot of them. And usually we don’t have a problem with them. But as you’ve probably heard reported, a lot of the baitfish — the bunker (the menhaden) — are actually closer in this year and there’s a lot more,” Florida Program for Shark Research Program Director Gavin Naylor said.
“It’s a statistical fact that sharks don’t target people. If they did, we’d have about 10,000 bites a day.”