A Florida fisherman recently reeled in a 14-foot stingray so old it had barnacles on it.
The 800-pound behemoth was snared in the waters off Miami Beach and was initially touted as a hookskate, a little-known deep-water skate that inhabits depths of between 1,000-3,000 feet.
Captain Mark Quartiano, a charter boat operator, posted a picture of the catch over the weekend.
“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,” added Quartiano, who caught the stingray while shooting a series of TV shows for a Japanese network.
He released the fish shortly after tagging it.
Roughtail stingrays reside in the deeper continental shelf waters of the US East Coast, off the Carolinas south to Uruguay, and in the eastern Atlantic, according to The Big Blue blog.
“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 weigh a bunch and are prone to suck their body onto the bottom like a kiddie arrow tip,” he added. “Once the suction is broken it’s basically a matter of hoisting up a big weight.”
Hookskates, on the other hand, are rarely seen or understood, largely because of the great depths at which they live.
Fossil records of skates and rays date back to the Lower Jurassic epoch, some 150 million years ago.