800-Pound Stingray: Florida Fisherman Mark 'The Shark' Quartiano Catches Rare Creature Off Miami Beach

By Josh Lieberman on November 26, 2013 4:40 PM EST

mark the shark
Mark "the Shark" Quartiano caught an 800-pound stingray in the waters off Miami Beach, Fla., on Saturday. (Photo: Facebook)

A Florida fisherman hauled in a very rare catch over the weekend: an 800-pound stingray. Charter boat Captain Mark Quartiano was fishing in the waters off Miami Beach on Saturday when he hooked the stingray, a 14-foot-long creature. Quartiano said he'd never reeled in such a big stingray.

"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."

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Quartiano, who goes by the nickname "Mark the Shark," caught the 800-pound stingray while filming a TV segment with a Japanese film crew. He fought with the stingray for four hours, and thought he was struggling to reel in a different animal entirely: "At first I thought it was a large thresher shark, because that's kind of the way they fight."

Quartiano believes the 800-pound stingray is a Dactylobatus clarkii, or hookskate, a poorly understood creature that lives in the western central and southwest Atlantic between at depths of 1,000 feet. Dactylobatus clarkii is sometimes caught as a bycatch of deepwater fishing. Quartiano caught the 800-pound stingray at 500 feet deep, tagging the stingray before releasing it back into the water. 

George H. Burgess of the Florida Museum of Natural History said he thought the stingray was not Dactylobatus clarkii, but a roughtail stingray, or Dasyatis centroura. The latter can grow up to 660 pounds and hangs out at a depth of 49 to 160 feet, not nearly as far down as Dactylobatus clarkii.

"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," said Burgess. "Obviously large adults like this require heavy fishing gear and strong backs--they aren't great fighters, but they weight 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."

Catching an 800-pound stingray isn't Quartiano's first brush with fame. He's been featured during Shark Week, in which he claimed to have killed as many as 30,000 sharks, and an article about Quartiano in The Week said that "[if you're looking] for a 21st-century incarnation of Captain Quint, the obsessive shark hunter from Jaws, Quartiano comes pretty close." As Quartiano boasted to the Discovery Channel, "if we had that movie, Jaws, filmed from our boat, it would've been a 10-minute movie."

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