A fisherman in Cambodia secured the rights to a true fish story last week, landing the largest freshwater fish ever caught.
The giant freshwater ray (Urogymnus polylepis) is more than 4 meters long and weighed a whopping 661 pounds (299.8 kilograms). Despite its enormous size, little is known about the habits and behavior of this species of stingray in the wild. Scientists tagged and released the record-breaker to learn more about its migration patterns and preferred habitats.
The flapjack-shaped find has now secured the giant freshwater stingray’s status as the world’s largest known fish and the Mekong giant catfish (Pangasianodon gigas), the largest of which was a 293 kg specimen caught in Thailand in 2005.
The giant freshwater ray is also native to the Mekong. It was caught on June 13 by a fisherman named Moul Thun in Stung Treng province in northeastern Cambodia. according to NBC. The next morning, Thun called in researchers from the conservation organization Wonders of Mekong, which has been working to identify and protect giant stingrays in the waterway. The Mekong is the only place on earth where these giant fish can be found, Zeb Hogan, director of the Wonders of the Mekong project and associate science professor at the University of Nevada at Reno, told NBC.
“It’s a particularly healthy section of the river with many deep pools – pools up to 90 meters [295 feet] deep,” said Hogan, a fish biologist who hosts the National Geographic television series Monster Fish. “We began to focus on this area as a stretch of river that is particularly important for biodiversity and fisheries, and as a last resort for these large species. “
According to NBC, this is the third giant ray to be caught and released in the last two months. all three stingrays, including a 397-pounder (180 kg) caught in May.were female, raising the possibility that this stretch of river could be a nursery where stingrays lay eggs and raise young.
Wonders of Mekong pays market prices to fishermen for their released catches. 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 power development projects could be planned for sites along the Mekong, Hogan told NBC, and learning about the fish’s migratory needs is important to ensure future projects don’t threaten the stingrays. To this end, the researchers plan to tag and release several hundred large Mekong fish.
“This will allow us this first type of empirical data to get this information about these individual fish migration patterns,” said Hogan in a Video published by Wonders of Mekong. “So to get that information about individuals, it’s going to be really crucial to encourage conservation of the species.”
Originally published on Live Science
Biggest freshwater fish ever caught is a stingray that weighs nearly as much as a polar bear
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