A fisherman in Cambodia secured the rights to a real fish story last week, catching what turned out to be the biggest freshwater fish ever caught.
The giant freshwater stingray (Urogymnus polylepis) is over 13 feet (4 meters) long and weighed 661 pounds (299.8 kilograms). Despite its massive mass, little is known about the habits and behavior of this ray species in the wild. Scientists tagged and released the record holder to learn more about its migration patterns and preferred habitats.
The flapjack-shaped discovery has now secured the giant freshwater stingray’s status as the largest known fish in the world, pushing the giant Mekong catfish (Pangasianodon gigas), the largest of which was a 646-pound (293 kg) specimen caught in Thailand in 2005.
The giant freshwater stingray is also native to the Mekong. He was caught on June 13 by a fisherman named Moul Thun in the province of Stung Treng in northeast Cambodia, according to the CNB. The next morning, Thun called in researchers from the conservation organization Wonders of Mekong, which is working to record and protect giant rays in the waterway. The Mekong is the only place in the world where these giant fish are found, Zeb Hogan, director of the Wonders of the Mekong project and associate research professor at the University of Nevada in Reno, told NBC.
“It’s a particularly healthy stretch of the river with lots of deep pools – pools down to 90 meters [295 feet] deep,” said Hogan, a fish biologist who hosts National Geographic’s “Monster Fish” television series. as the last refuge for these large species. “
This is the third capture and release of giant rays in the past two months, according to NBC. The Three Rays, including a 397-pound (180 kg) captured in Maywere females, raising the possibility that this stretch of river is a nursery where stingrays go to lay eggs and raise their young.
Wonders of Mekong pays market price to fishermen for their released catch. The researchers also tagged this stingray with an acoustic transmitter that will help scientists keep tabs on the monster fish for a full year. Hydroelectric development projects may be in store for places along the Mekong, Hogan told NBC, and it’s important to know the migratory needs of fish to ensure any future projects don’t threaten stingrays. To this end, the researchers plan to tag and release several hundred large Mekong fish.
“It’s going to allow us first this kind of empirical data to get this information about these individual fish migration patterns,” Hogan said in a video posted by Wonders of Mekong. “So getting that information about individuals is going to be really critical in promoting the conservation of the species.”
Originally posted on Live Science