Mark Quartiano – better known as Mark the Shark – is famous for catching and helping clients catch thousands of sharks. Even with all of his experience, he’d never seen anything like the creature he caught that he described as looking “like some kind of dinosaur.”
Thought to be a Dactylobatus clarkii at first, it was later identified as a Dasyatis centroura (a roughtail stingray) by George H. Burgess of the Florida Museum of Natural History.
They aren’t often seen due to the depths at which they reside.
“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,” Burgess said. “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.”
Quartiano says he was trying to hook a shark to be filmed by a Japanese film crew. He thought it was a thresher shark due to how it fought. After fighting with it for four hours, he finally brought up the creature, to his surprise.
“It was a big female and she swam away pretty quickly,” he said. “It was kind of cool to catch something new for a change. … When we first saw it we didn’t know what it was. It looked really odd … like some kind of dinosaur.”