Cambodian catches world’s largest recorded freshwater fish

BANGKOK: According to scientists from the Southeast Asian country and the United States, the world’s largest recorded freshwater fish, a giant stingray, has been caught in Cambodia’s Mekong River.
The stingray, caught on June 13, measured nearly 4 meters (13 feet) from snout to tail and weighed just under 300 kilograms (660 pounds), according to a statement Monday by Miracles of the Mekong, a joint Cambodian-US research project.
The previous record for a freshwater fish was a 293 kilogram (646 lb) Mekong giant catfish, discovered in Thailand in 2005, the group said.
The stingray 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 has published its conservation work in communities along the river.
The scientists arrived within hours of receiving a call after midnight with the news and were amazed at what they saw.
“Yeah, when you see a fish of this size, especially in freshwater, it’s hard to understand, so I think our whole team was stunned,” said the Wonders of the Mekong leader. Zeb Hogan said in an online interview from the University of Nevada at Reno. The university cooperates with the Cambodian Fisheries Administration and USAID, the international development agency of the United States government.
Freshwater fish are defined as fish that spend their entire lives in fresh water, unlike giant marine species such as bluefin tuna and marlin, or fish that migrate between fresh and salt water such as the huge beluga sturgeon.
The stingray catch wasn’t just about setting a new record, he said.
“The fact that the fish can still grow this big is a hopeful sign for the Mekong River,” Hogan said, pointing out that the waterway faces many environmental challenges.
The Mekong River runs through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It is home to several species of giant freshwater fish, but environmental pressures are mounting. In particular, scientists fear that a large-scale dam-building program in recent years could seriously disrupt spawning grounds.
“Big fish are globally threatened. They’re high-value species. They take a long time to mature, so if they’re fished before they reach maturity, they don’t have a chance to reproduce,” Hogan said. “A lot of these big fish are migrating, so they need large areas to survive. They’re affected by things like habitat fragmentation by dams, obviously affected by overfishing. So about 70% of the giant freshwater fish worldwide are in danger of extinction, and all Mekong species.”
The team rushing to the site placed a tagging device near the mighty fish’s tail before releasing it. The device will send tracking information for the coming year and provide unprecedented data on the behavior of giant stingrays 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 all over Southeast Asia, but we have almost no information about it. We know nothing about its life history. We know nothing about its ecology, about its migration patterns.”
Researchers say it is the fourth giant stingray reported in the same area in the past two months, all females. They think this could be a spawning ground for the species.
Local residents nicknamed the stingray “Boramy” or “full moon” because of its round shape and because the moon was on the horizon when it was liberated on June 14. lucky fisherman was compensated at market rates, meaning he received a payment of about $600.

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