05/27/2014 11:20 am ET Updated May 28, 2014

Rare Sawfish Caught In South Florida Looks Like Something From Prehistoric Times

There's no mistaking this prehistoric-looking fish.

After a two-hour fight, a South Florida man and his fishing buddies reeled in an unusual catch: a rare species of sawfish, reports note. Named for its characteristic snout, or rostrum, the sawfish is seldom spotted in the wild. All of the known species are considered endangered or critically endangered.

Dustin Richter and his friends caught the ray early Sunday morning after midnight. The group pulled the catch to shore and made sure to get proof before releasing it back into the waters off Boynton Beach.

"Catching a fish like that is like once in a lifetime," Richter told ABC News. "If you see them, you’re lucky to see them, and if you catch them, you’re even luckier."

Richter estimates that the sawfish spanned about 11 feet, including its 4-foot-long rostrum, and weighed about 500 pounds, WSVN reports. Based on its size, it's likely the ray was not fully developed, since the two species of sawfish found in U.S. waters can grow to a length of more than 20 feet.

Sawfishes are believed to have evolved from now-extinct primitive sharks, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History. They use their signature rostrums and jagged teeth to defend themselves and to dig up small fish and crustaceans on the ocean floor.

Despite the infrequency of sightings, it seems the South Florida coast is a choice place to see a sawfish. In 2012, fishermen spotted a 10-foot sawfish in the waters near Miami's Black Point Marina.

Update, May 28: Sawfish are protected under the U.S. Endangered Act and should be released immediately, if caught. For more information see the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s guidelines for sawfish handling.



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