The world’s largest freshwater fish, nearly 660 pounds, is found in Cambodia


In this photo provided by Wonders of the Mekong taken on June 14, 2022, a man touches a giant freshwater stingray before it was released into the Mekong River in Cambodia’s northeastern province of Stung Treng.

Chhut Chheana/AP


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Chhut Chheana/AP


In this photo provided by Wonders of the Mekong taken on June 14, 2022, a man touches a giant freshwater stingray before it was released into the Mekong River in Cambodia’s northeastern province of Stung Treng.

Chhut Chheana/AP

BANGKOK – The world’s largest recorded freshwater fish, a giant stingray, has been caught in Cambodia’s Mekong River, according to scientists from the Southeast Asian nation and the United States.

The stingray, captured on June 13, measured nearly 13 feet from snout to tail and weighed just under 660 pounds, according to a statement released Monday by Wonders of the Mekong, a joint Cambodian-American research project.

The previous record for a freshwater fish was a 646-pound giant Mekong catfish, discovered in Thailand in 2005, the group said.

The ray was caught by a local fisherman south of Stung Treng in northeast Cambodia. The fisherman alerted a nearby team of scientists from the Wonders of the Mekong project, which publicized its conservation work in communities along the river.

Scientists arrived hours after receiving a call after midnight with the news and were amazed at what they saw.

“Yeah, when you see a fish that size, especially in freshwater, it’s hard to understand, so I think our whole team was blown away,” Wonders of the Mekong frontman Zeb Hogan said in a post. online interview from the University of Nevada in Reno. The university is in partnership with the Cambodian Fisheries Administration and USAID, the US government’s international development agency.

Freshwater fish are defined as those that spend their entire lives in fresh water, as opposed to giant marine species such as bluefin tuna and marlin, or fish that migrate between fresh and salt water such as the huge beluga sturgeon.

Catching the sting wasn’t just about setting a new record, he said.

“The fact that the fish can still grow to this size is a sign of hope for the Mekong,” Hogan said, noting that the waterway faces many environmental challenges.

The Mekong River flows through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It is home to several species of giant freshwater fish but environmental pressures are increasing. In particular, scientists fear that a major dam building program in recent years could seriously disrupt spawning grounds.

“Big fish are endangered around the world. They are very valuable species. They take a long time to mature. So if they are caught before they are mature, they have no chance of reproducing.” , Hogan said. “A lot of these big fish are migratory so they need large areas to survive. They are impacted by things like habitat fragmentation by dams, obviously impacted by overfishing. So around 70% of the fish freshwater giants in the world are threatened with extinction, and all species of the Mekong.”

The team that rushed to the site inserted a tagging device near the tail of the mighty fish before releasing it. The device will send tracking information for the next year, providing unprecedented data on giant stingray behavior in Cambodia.

“The giant stingray is a very poorly understood fish. Its name, even its scientific name, has changed several times over the past 20 years,” Hogan said. “It is found throughout Southeast Asia, but we have almost no information about it. We don’t know its life history. We don’t know its ecology, migration patterns.”

Researchers say this is the fourth giant stingray reported in the same area in the past two months, all female. They think this could be a spawning hotspot for the species.

Locals nicknamed the ray “Boramy” or “full moon” because of its round shape and because the moon was on the horizon when it was released on June 14. Along with the honor of catching the record holder, the lucky fisherman was compensated at the market rate, meaning he received a payout of around $600.

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