Sea monsters may not be real, but sometimes it's easy to see how our seafaring ancestors may have gotten the wrong idea. Case in point, yesterday a Florida fisherman named Mark "the shark" Quartiano hooked himself a gigantic relic seemingly from another era: A Roughtail stingray that measured around 11 feett and weighed in at around 800 lbs. Though originally reported to be a hookskate, George H. Burgess of the Florida Museum of Natural History later identified the animal as a roughtail.
“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. It was very old. It had barnacles all over it.”
Little is known about the hookskate, the species originally misappropriated to the animal. Properly known as Dactylobatus clarkii, the species is said to cover the western central and southwest Atlantic, usually on muddy bottoms of the continental slope at depths of 1,0o0–3,000 ft.
By contrast, roughtail stingrays (otherwise known as Dasyatis centroura) are found throughout the Atlantic. Though more common than the more elusive hookskate, Quartiano's catch is still significant due to its size. Considered the largest whip-tail stingray in the Atlantic, roughtails typically grow up to 8.5 feet across and 660 lbs in weight. Quartiano's specimen is considerably larger by both measures. Including the tail, the roughtail caught Monday measure over 14 feet in length.
Quartiano said he released the fish back into the ocean shortly after tagging it, as he had no other use for it.
“Stingrays are usually pretty good to eat, but this one as table fare? I don’t know how that would work out,” he said.
The stingray faces stiff competition in the "weirdest thing to come out of the ocean" department: In October, not one, but two serpent-like oarfish specimens washed ashore in southern California.