The record for the largest caught freshwater fish has been beaten, and it’s a whopper. Catch a look at it here:
If you have the patience of a saint and like to spend your Sunday’s sitting with a rod in your hand for hours, then this story’s for you. But if you have ichthyophobia then turn away now.
A local fisherman in Cambodia was rewarded heavily for his perseverance when he found a terrifyingly large stingray attached to the end of his fishing line, which he’d dangled into the Mekong River.
The fish has been measured as the largest freshwater fish ever recorded.
The previous record was set in 2005 in Thailand when a fisherman came across a Mekong giant catfish weighing 293 kilograms (646 pounds).
While weighing less than 300 kilograms (661 pounds), the latest stingray to take the title still beat the last contender and was the length of two average humans.
It measured 2.2 metres wide and 3.98 metres long.
Upon hooking the giant fish at around midnight, the fisherman then proceeded to call scientists from joint Cambodian-US research project, Wonders of the Mekong.
The team confirmed that the fish had indeed set a new record.
Leader of Wonders of the Mekong, Dr Zeb Hogan, said: “Yeah, when you see a fish this size, especially in freshwater, it is hard to comprehend, so I think all of our team was stunned.”
“In 20 years of researching giant fish in rivers and lakes on six continents, this is the largest freshwater fish that we’ve encountered or that’s been documented anywhere worldwide,” he continued.
The fish has won the crown for the largest freshwater fish in particular, as it is a fish which spends its entire life in freshwater.
A different category would be used for fish such as the bluefin tuna and marlin who are giant marine species.
Fish that go between saltwater and freshwater would also require a different category – the huge beluga sturgeon, for example.
The Mekong River spans over a vast distance, running through Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
However, there are reportedly plans in the works to build a dam which could interrupt the habitats of the fish, specifically where they can deposit eggs.
Dr Hogan said: “Big fish globally are endangered. They’re high-value species. They take a long time to mature. So if they’re fished before they mature, they don’t have a chance to reproduce.
“A lot of these big fish are migratory, so they need large areas to survive. They’re impacted by things like habitat fragmentation from dams, obviously impacted by overfishing.
“So about 70% of giant freshwater fish globally are threatened with extinction, and all of the Mekong species.”
Despite reflecting on the environmental adversities the Mekong river has been facing, Dr Hogan said the discovery of the record-breaking fish is a ‘hopeful sign’.
“When record fish are found, it means the aquatic environment is still relatively healthy. This is in contrast to what we’ve seen in places like the Yantgze River, where scientists reported the extinction of the Chinese paddlefish.
“The Mekong’s deep pools sustain life far beyond these impressive giants. Spawning in this critical habitat produces billions of fish every year which ensure the food security and livelihoods for millions of people in Cambodia and Vietnam,” he added.
After measuring the fish, the scientists were quick to release it back into the river.
However, as the behaviour of giant stingrays is still somewhat of a mystery to scientists, they made sure to add a tagging device to an area near its tail, so they can gain information on the fish for the next year.
The fish’s circular shape and the setting in which it was released – on 14 June with the moon on the horizon – has led to it having been nicknamed ‘Boramy’ or ‘Full Moon’ by local residents.
As well as having set the latest record for the largest freshwater fish to be caught, the fisherman who snagged Boramy was also rewarded $600 (£490) for his feat.
Dr Hogan added: “The stingray find is evidence that the natural world can still yield new and extraordinary discoveries.”