Fishers in Cambodia lately acquired an enormous shock once they reeled in a big 400-pound stingray. The hefty ray was dragged up from the murky depths of the Mekong River after it swallowed a fish that had already been snagged on the fishers’ line.
The monstrous ray, which has been recognized as a large freshwater stingray (Urogymnus polylepis), was unintentionally caught by locals on May 5 within the Stung Treng province in northeastern Cambodia. The fishers instantly alerted crew members from the Wonders of the Mekong mission — a conservation group run by the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), in collaboration with native fishing authorities — who helped take away the fishing line and measure the ray earlier than safely releasing it again into the river.
The large specimen weighed a hefty 397 kilos (180 kilograms) and measured 6 toes (1.9 meters) large and 13 toes (4 m) in size together with its whip-like tail, which terminated in a 6 inch (15 centimeter) venomous, serrated barb, UNR representatives mentioned in an announcement.
Giant freshwater stingrays are the world’s largest stingray species and “are contenders for the title of world’s largest freshwater fish,” Zeb Hogan, a UNR fish biologist and director of the Wonders of the Mekong mission, instructed Live Science.
Little is understood about these remarkably giant fish as a result of “catches are almost never reported,” Hogan mentioned, “which also makes it difficult to determine true abundance or population trends.”
However, previous studies counsel that people can develop even greater than this behemoth. “The size of this stingray was surprising,” Hogan mentioned. “But what’s more surprising is that it’s dwarfed by accounts of [individuals] twice the size reported by fishermen in the same area.”
The present record-holder for the biggest fish within the Mekong River — which flows via China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam — is a 646-pound (293 kg) Mekong large catfish (Pangasianodon gigas) that was caught in Thailand in 2005, Hogan mentioned. Giant freshwater stingrays can doubtless develop bigger than this, he added. In 2009, a large freshwater stingray caught in Thailand was estimated to weigh between 550 and 770 kilos (249 and 349 kg) however was by no means formally weighed.
The largest freshwater fish on the planet are beluga sturgeon (Huso huso); these monumental fish, that are present in Russia, can attain a most size of greater than 26 toes (8 m) and weigh as much as 2.2 tons (2 metric tons).
The Mekong River can be dwelling to a variety of different giant aquatic species, together with Irrawaddy dolphins, large softshell turtles, Mekong large catfish, large barbs (a kind of carp), large goonch catfish and large sheatfish (one other sort of catfish), in line with the assertion. “This remote and relatively pristine stretch of the Cambodian Mekong River appears to be the last place on Earth where all of these iconic giant freshwater species live alongside one another,” Hogan mentioned.
These large species are in a position to develop to excessive sizes as a result of the Mekong River has all kinds of various habitat sorts together with deep swimming pools, braided channels, sand bars and islands that “provide refuge and space for the species to grow,” Hogan mentioned. Historically, the Mekong River is among the “most productive rivers in the world” and would have offered an abundance of meals for bigger animals, he added.
However, the well being of the Mekong River has critically declined in latest many years as a result of water air pollution, overfishing and habitat fragmentation as a result of river developments, akin to dams, Hogan mentioned. As a consequence, large freshwater rays at the moment are listed as endangered, in line with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of endangered species.
Originally revealed on Live Science.