For one lucky angler in Cambodia, the catch of the day was the world’s largest recorded freshwater fish – a giant ray weighing 660 pounds that took a dozen men to haul ashore.
Fisherman Moul Thun, 42, snagged the female stingray, which measured almost 13ft from snout to tail, near a remote island in the Mekong on June 13.
The next morning, the fisherman alerted a nearby team from Wonders of the Mekong – a joint Cambodian-American research project – who publicized their 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 stingray broke the previous record for the largest freshwater fish, held by a 646-pound giant Mekong catfish discovered in 2005 in northern Thailand.
But the catch wasn’t just setting a new record, Hogan 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, including overfishing, pollution and dam construction. .
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.
“The big fish in the world are endangered. These are high value species. They take a long time to mature. So if they’re caught before they mature, they have no chance of reproducing,” Hogan said. “Many of these large fish are migratory, so they need large areas to survive.”
Scientists who rushed to the site inserted a tagging device near the tail of the large fish before releasing it back into the river. The device will send tracking information for the next year, providing unprecedented data on giant stingray behavior in Cambodia.
“The giant ray 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 do not know his life story. We don’t know anything about its ecology, its 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.
Although the record catch was thrown back into the waters, the fisherman was compensated at the market rate, meaning he was paid around $600.
With pole wires