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New London — While fishing for striped bass at Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford on Monday, city resident Domingo Garcia was surprised when he hooked something that took him 30 minutes to reel in.
He was even more shocked when he got his catch on shore and saw that it wasn’t a striper at all.
“When I saw it, oh my god,” said Garcia of the 53-pound stingray he landed while fishing with his son-in-law Jesus Tirado. He shoved a stick through the fish’s eyes to help him haul it to A.W. Marina on Pequot Avenue, where he had it weighed.
Garcia said he had caught a stingray in Puerto Rico before, but not as big as the one he caught Monday. His catch was 93 inches long if its spiked, poisonous tail was included and measured 70 inches in girth.
The stingray “certainly is something I’ve never seen,” said Karen Westerberg, one of the owners of A.W. Marina. She said the warmer waters mean that she’s been seeing different species than in previous years, but she’s still shocked that someone caught a stingray from the shore.
She plans to send the ray’s measurements, along with photos of its body and tail, to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for identification. Westerberg said that A.W. Marina is an official DEEP weigh station and that she encourages people to bring in their catches to be measured, which can provide the DEEP with useful data.
Garcia brought the stingray home and plans to “cook it up.” He’s eaten stingray before and said the wings are filled with edible meat. Tirado said the meal will be a new experience for him.