At Koh Preah island in the Mekong River south of Stung Treng province, Cambodia, on June 14, 2022, the world’s largest freshwater fish, a monster stingray weighing 661 pounds (300 kilograms), is photographed alongside international scientists, Cambodian fishery officials, and villagers.
On June 14, 2022, a drone photograph was captured. Handout via REUTERS: Chhut Chheana/Mekong Wonder
A fisherman on the Mekong River in Cambodia caught the world’s largest freshwater fish, a 300-kilogram stingray
The four-metre-long freshwater stingray, which measured 13 feet from snout to tail, was caught last week and released into the wild after being fitted with a tag to follow its movements.
According to the US-funded Wonders of the Mekong study project, the huge bottom-dweller broke the previous record for the largest documented freshwater fish, which was held by a 293-kilo (646-pound) Mekong giant catfish caught in Thailand in 2005.
The stingray, which was caught in Stung Treng province in northern Cambodia, weighed more than twice as much as a typical lowland gorilla, according to specialists.
“This is the largest freshwater fish that we’ve observed or that’s been reported anyplace worldwide in 20 years of researching giant fish in rivers and lakes on six continents,” Zeb Hogan, a fish scientist directing the Wonders of the Mekong project, said in a statement released Tuesday.
“This is an astounding discovery that justifies our efforts to learn more about the mysteries surrounding this species and the wonderful stretch of river where it dwells.”
Before releasing the stingray to the river, the researchers equipped it with an acoustic tag in order to learn more about the elusive creature’s behavior.
A fisherman in the same province also caught an endangered big freshwater stingray measuring four meters long and weighing 180 kilograms last month.
The Mekong is home to over 1,000 fish species, and the stingray isn’t the only big hiding in the murky waters; the gigantic catfish and giant barb may grow up to three meters long and weigh 270 kilograms.
Scientists have cautioned that plastic garbage, as well as “ghost nets” — abandoned fishing nets that can still catch fish — pose a hazard to animals even in the Mekong’s deepest reaches.
The famed canal begins in China and winds its way south, supporting 60 million people through its basin and tributaries through Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
Environmentalists, on the other hand, have long expressed worries about dam construction along the Mekong River, which they believe could deplete fish stocks.