Mark Quartiano has drawn many comparisons to famous fishermen throughout history. In August 1991, Life magazine called him a modern Captain Ahab. Exactly 20 years later, author Juliet Eilperin coined the name Captain Quint (from Jaws) for him. But Quartiano didn't make waves this weekend over a shark or a whale. This time he caught an 800-pound stingray off Miami Beach.
The 59-year-old, who goes by "Mark the Shark," was filming for a Japanese TV show when he dropped a whole bonito into the water. He hoped to catch his namesake creature for the cameras. At first he thought he had succeeded: Whatever was at the end of his line acted a whole lot like a thresher shark. But after reeling for four hours, Quartiano hauled up a creature that looked more like a dinosaur than a fish.
Originally, he thought it was a hookskate. Local 10 reported that this elusive creature trolls the bottom of the ocean at depths up to 1,000 feet. Very little is known about this particular skate, and the discovery would have been a big deal for those who want to study the data-deficient species if it been the genuine article.
Later, by looking at photographs, George H. Burgess of the Florida History Museum identified the creature as a roughtail stingray. This ray preys on bony fish and has a venomous tail that is dangerous to humans.
On his website, Quartiano warns, "Some photos on this fishing site may not be suitable for very small children, the faint-hearted, or PETA members." Another message reads, "We DON'T fly release flags upside down on our riggers, but we DO hang fish upside down on our gallows!"
The roughtail stingray apparently escaped the fate of most creatures that find their way onto Mark the Shark's deck. Quartiano tagged the behemoth and threw it back into the ocean.
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