BANGKOK (AP) – The world’s largest recorded freshwater fish, a giant stingray, has been caught in the Mekong River in Cambodia, according to scientists from the Southeast Asian nation and the United States.
According to a statement on Monday by the Cambodian-American joint research project Wonders of the Mekong, the stingray caught on June 13 measured about four meters (13 feet) from snout to tail and weighed a little less than 300 kilograms (660 lb). .
The group said the previous record for freshwater fish was the 293-kilogram (646-pound) Mekong giant catfish, discovered in Thailand in 2005.
A local fisherman snatched a stingray south of Stung Treng in northeastern Cambodia. The fisherman alerted a nearby team of scientists from the Wonders of the Mekong Project, which has publicized their conservation work in communities along the river.
The scientists arrived within hours of receiving the news after midnight and were astonished by what they saw.
Mekong leader Zeb Hogan said in an online interview from the University of Nevada, “Yeah, when you see fish of this size, especially in freshwater, it’s hard to understand, so I think our whole team is stunned.” was left.” Reno. The university is partnering 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 freshwater, as opposed to giant marine species such as bluefin tuna and marlin, or fish that live in fresh and salt water, such as the giant beluga sturgeon. travel between.
He said the stingray catch was not just about setting new records.
“The fact that the fish may still be so large is a hopeful sign for the Mekong River,” Hogan said, noting that the waterway faces many environmental challenges.
The Mekong River runs through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It is home to many species of giant freshwater fish, but there is increasing environmental pressure. In particular, scientists fear that a major program of dam construction in recent years could seriously disrupt spawning grounds.
“Big fish are endangered globally. They are a high value species. They take a long time to mature. So if they catch fish before they mature, they don’t have a chance to reproduce,” Hogan said. “Many of these large fish are migratory, so they need large areas to survive. They Dams are affected by things like habitat fragmentation, apparently overfishing. So globally about 70% of giant freshwater fish and all Mekong species are at risk of extinction.”
The team that arrived at the site inserted a tagging device near the tail of the powerful fish that would 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 about its life history. We don’t know about its ecology, its migration patterns.”
Researchers say this is the fourth giant stingray, all female, in the same area in the past two months. They think it could be a spawning hotspot for the species.
Local residents nicknamed the stingray “Borami,” or “full moon,” because of its round shape and because the Moon was on the horizon when it broke free on June 14. In addition to the honor of catching the record-breaker, the lucky fisherman was compensated at market rate, meaning he received a payout of about $600.