Captain Mark Quartiano earned his nickname “Mark the Shark” from years of experience fishing off the coast of Florida, but even he was stunned by his monstrous catch on Saturday. According to CBS Miami, Quartiano hooked the large creature while filming for a series of fishing shows in Miami waters. He identified the stingray as a member of the Dactylobatus clarkii species, relatives of the shark and commonly known as fingerskates or hookskates.
“I’ve caught one like it before, but never that size, not in the last 30 years 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.”
At about 14 feet in length and clocking in at 800 pounds, Quartiano says the hookskate is likely very old. When the angler managed to bring the beast aboard his boat, he found it was covered in barnacles.
Little is known about hookskates, which prefer depths of 1,000 to 3,000 feet below the surface of the ocean. Like most species of skates, these creatures are slow-growers with a low reproduction rate. Almost nothing is known about the hookskate’s population or its natural range, save that it has been found in the southwest and western central regions of the Atlantic Ocean.
Quartiano caught this especially large female at a depth of about 500 feet. It was quickly released after the anglers took a few photos. According to GrindTV contributor Pete Thomas, at least one expert is saying that Quartiano’s catch is actually a roughtail stingray rather than a hookskate. Whatever it is, the captain recalls it putting up a tremendous fight.
“I hooked that monster and it took about four hours to bring it up,” Quartiano said. “At first I thought it was a large thresher shark, because that’s kind of the way they fight.”
When he is not bringing in massive skates, Quartiano runs a fishing charter in South Beach, Miami.