A monster sea creature caught off Miami Beach over the weekend had its captor confused.
Mark Quartiano, also known as Mark the Shark, is a famous Florida captain who has caught thousands of sharks. But the 800-pound rare catch he reeled in over the weekend was something he had never seen before, ABC News reports.
“When we first saw it, we didn’t know what it was. It looked really odd … like some kind of dinosaur,” Quartiano told GrindTV, adding that the creature was out of the water for three or four minutes for a photo before being set free.
Quartiano says he was fishing at a depth of about 500 feet, looking to reel in a shark for a Japanese TV show, when he hooked the massive fish.
“I hooked that monster and it took about four hours to bring it up. At first I thought it was a large thresher shark, because that’s kind of the way they fight,” he said.
But a closer look at the photo Quartiano captured and posted to Instagram has some experts identifying the creature as a roughtail stingray known as Dasyatis centroura.
“Most anglers don’t bottom-fish in these deeper waters, so they aren’t routinely seen by that user group, but commercial longline fishers and research biologists see the critter fairly commonly,” George H. Burgess of the Florida Museum of Natural History said, referring to roughtail stingrays. “Obviously large adults like this require heavy fishing gear and strong backs. They aren’t great fighters, but they weigh a bunch and are prone to suck their body onto the bottom like a kiddie arrow tip. Once the suction is broken, it’s basically a matter of hoisting up a big weight.”
Others say it is a Dactylobatus clarkii, a hookskate that lives at depths of up to 1,000 feet, ABC News reports.
“It was very old. It had barnacles all over it,” Quartiano said, describing the 14-foot skate.
For Quartiano, the catch was a once-in-a-lifetime event. “I’ve caught one like it before, but never that size, not in the last 30 years that I’ve been doing this,” Quartiano told ABC News. “It’s a very rare fish. It’s like a big gigantic whipping stingray. It’s a dinosaur.”
This isn’t the first rare fish caught this season. Earlier this month, an unidentified catch nicknamed an “armor fish” was caught in the South China Sea. In October, an 18-foot oarfish was found off the California coast. In August, a 13-foot “sea monster” washed ashore in Spain.