660 pounds of rock caught in Cambodia

For a lucky fisherman in Cambodia, today’s catch was the world’s largest recorded freshwater fish – a giant stingray that weighed an impressive 660 pounds that took around a dozen men to carry ashore.

Fisherman Moul Thun, 42, hooked the female stingray, which measured almost 13 feet from snout to tail, near a remote island on the Mekong River on June 13.

The next morning, the fisherman announced a nearby team from Wonders of the Mekong – a joint Cambodian-American research project – which has published its conservation work in communities along the river.

The researchers arrived within hours of receiving a phone call after midnight with the news, and were surprised by what they saw.

“Yes, when you see a fish of this size, especially in freshwater, it’s hard to understand, so I think our whole team was stunned,” Wonders of the Mekong leader Zeb Hogan said in an online interview from the University of Nevada at Reno. .

Stingray Cambodia
The stingray was hooked near a remote island on the Mekong River on June 13.
Chhut Chheana / Wonders of the Mekong via AP

The stingray broke the previous record for the largest freshwater fish, which had been held by a 646-pound Mekong giant catfish that was discovered in 2005 in northern Thailand.

But the catch was not just about setting a new record, Hogan said.

“The fact that the fish can still be so large is a hopeful sign for the Mekong River,” said Hogan, noting that the waterway faces many environmental challenges, including overfishing and dam construction.

Stingray in Cambodia
About a dozen men were needed to put the stingray ashore.
Chhut Chheana / Wonders of the Mekong via AP

The Mekong River flows through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It is home to several species of giant freshwater fish, but the environmental impact is increasing.

“Large fish globally are endangered. They are high-value species. They take a long time to mature. So if they are fished before they mature, they do not have a chance to reproduce,” Hogan said. “Many of these large fish are migrating, so they need large areas to survive. “

The researchers, who hurried to the site, inserted a marking device near the tail of the large fish before releasing it back into the river. The unit will send tracking information for the next year, and provide outstanding data on giant stingrays’ behavior in Cambodia.

Cambodia stingrays
Wonders of Mekong leader Zeb Hogan (above) said that “our whole team was surprised” to find the stingray.
Photo by AP / Courtesy of Zeb Hogan, University of Nevada-Reno

“The giant stingray is a very poorly understood fish. The name, even its scientific name, has changed several times over the last 20 years, “said Hogan.” It exists throughout Southeast Asia, but we have almost no information about it. We do not know its life history. We do not know about its ecology, about its migration patterns. “

Researchers say that it is the fourth giant stingray that has been reported in the same area in the last two months, all women. They think this may be a spawning point for the species.

Despite the fact that the record-breaking catch was dumped back into the water, the fisherman was compensated at market price, which means that he was paid around 600 dollars.

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