Fishermen in Cambodia have caught what could be the world's largest freshwater fish. Villagers fishing on the Mekong River had captured a stingray, which reportedly weighed more than 660 pounds or 300 kilos. It reportedly took more than a dozen men to bring the 13-foot stingray to shore.
Wonders of the Mekong, a collaborative Cambodian-US study initiative, said the previous record for the largest freshwater fish ever caught was a 293-kg (646-lb) Mekong catfish discovered in 2005. Because of the bulbous shape of the fish, the recently caught stingray was named "Boramy," which means "full moon" in Khmer. The female specimen was caught south of Stung Treng on the Mekong River in northeastern Cambodia.
The fishermen notified a team of scientists from the Wonders of the Mekong project, which was conducting conservation projects near their village. The scientists rushed to the village after they received the call. The fish was eventually released back into the river after it was electronically tagged by the scientists to monitor its movements.
Wonders of the Mekong leader Zeb Hogan said in an interview that they were amazed at the size of the fish, adding that it was a sight to behold for everyone in her team. Hogan said seeing a fish of this size is a good sign of the river's health.
Unlike large marine species like bluefin tuna and marlin, or fish that migrate between fresh and saltwater like beluga sturgeon, freshwater fish spend their whole lives in freshwaters such as rivers and lakes. China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam all share the Mekong River. Several kinds of big freshwater fish call it home, but environmental constraints are putting a lot of pressure on their populations. Scientists are concerned that a big dam-building initiative launched in recent years may be adversely harming spawning sites.
According to the Mekong River Commission, the Mekong boasts the world's third-most diversified fish population, yet overfishing, pollution, saltwater intrusion, and sediment depletion have caused populations to drop. The group said stingrays have been particularly sensitive to these changes, with mass deaths occurring despite conservation measures like fishing limits and river restoration programs being put in place.
The group said that Boramy was the fourth giant stingray caught by fishermen in the village over the last two months. All of those that were caught were female, indicating that the area may be a spawning hotspot for the particular species. The fishermen that caught the stingray were reportedly compensated at the current market rate for giant stingrays, which meant that they likely received somewhere around $600.