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Largest Freshwater Fish Ever Caught Hooked in Cambodia (661 pounds)

Largest Freshwater Fish
The giant freshwater stingray was captured the night of June 13, 2022 near Koh Preah island in the Mekong River in northern Cambodia. It was accidentally hooked by a 42-year-old fisherman named Moul Thun.Chhut Chheana / Wonders of the Mekong

A fisherman in Cambodia made a groundbreaking catch on June 13, 2022, by reeling in a giant freshwater stingray weighing 661 pounds. This remarkable find, near Koh Preah island on the Mekong River, has set a new world record for the largest freshwater fish ever caught.

Discovery of the Giant Freshwater Stingray

Largest Freshwater Fish
Wonders of the Mekong team members, Cambodian fishery officials and villagers took photos with the giant freshwater stingray.Chhut Chheana / Wonders of the Mekong

The giant stingray, measuring approximately 13 feet in length, was hooked by 42-year-old fisherman Moul Thun. Thun’s catch near the remote island in the Stung Treng area of the Mekong River has drawn significant attention from both local communities and researchers.

Fisherman’s Record-Breaking Catch

Largest Freshwater Fish
A team of Cambodian and American scientists and researchers, along with Fisheries Administration officials prepare to release a giant freshwater stingray back into the Mekong River. | Photo Credit: AP

Moul Thun contacted researchers from the Wonders of Mekong project after capturing the enormous stingray. The team assisted in tagging, measuring, and weighing the fish before releasing it back into the river, ensuring its survival and continued health.

Tracking the Giant Stingray

Orca Tail Slaps a Stingray for Fun
Beautiful Stingray. Image via depositphotos.

The stingray was tagged with an acoustic transmitter, allowing scientists to track its movements and gather data on its behavior and habitat. This tracking will help researchers understand more about the species and its role in the Mekong River ecosystem.

The Wonders of Mekong Research Project

Stingray
Stingray. By MOs810 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66493367

The Wonders of Mekong project, which focuses on studying and preserving the biodiversity of the Mekong River, played a crucial role in the tagging and release of the giant stingray. Their ongoing research aims to protect and understand the river’s unique aquatic life.

Importance of the Mekong River for Biodiversity

Portrait of a Round Stingray Urobatis halleri syn. Urolophus halleri, caught and released in San Diego Bay, California, USA. By Ruff tuff cream puff – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62897163

The Mekong River is known for its rich biodiversity and deep pools, which provide a habitat for various large freshwater species. The area where the stingray was caught is considered particularly important for maintaining the health of these ecosystems.

Observations About the Giant Stingray

Round stingray
Round stingray. By Coughdrop12 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=127466759

The giant freshwater stingray has a distinctive appearance, with a mouth resembling a banana used to crush prey such as shrimp, mollusks, and small fish. Despite its size, little is known about this enigmatic creature, making the recent capture significant for scientific study.

Recent Female Stingray Catches

Stingray
Yellow stingray. Image via Elizabeth – Sting Ray, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9511830

In the past two months, fishermen have reported catching three large female stingrays in the same region. This suggests that the area may serve as a crucial seasonal gathering site or pupping ground for giant freshwater stingrays.

Potential Conservation Efforts

Stingray covered in sand
Stingray covered in sand. By Coughdrop12 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=132269209

The Cambodian government is considering developing a conservation plan for the giant freshwater stingray, acknowledging the importance of preserving this rare species. Efforts are underway to ensure the sustainability of its habitat amidst potential developmental pressures.

Threats from Hydropower Development

Yellow stingray
Yellow sting grays move by Flapping Their ‘Wings. Image via Andy Blackledge, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The upper Mekong region, where the stingray was caught, faces potential threats from hydropower development. Researchers aim to understand the ecological significance of this area before any unsustainable development occurs.

The Previous Record Holder

largest fish
Fishermen in northern Thailand netted a 646-pound Mekong River catfish that may be the largest freshwater fish ever recorded. PHOTOGRAPH BY SUTHEP KRITSANAVARIN.

Before this recent catch, the world record for the largest freshwater fish was held by a 646-pound Mekong giant catfish caught in Thailand in 2005. The giant stingray’s capture has now surpassed this record, highlighting the Mekong River’s role in hosting massive freshwater species.

Insights Gained from the Stingray’s Capture

Largest Freshwater Fish
A team of Cambodian and American scientists and researchers, along with Fisheries Administration officials prepare to release a giant freshwater stingray back into the Mekong River. | Photo Credit: AP

The capture and subsequent study of the giant stingray provide valuable insights into the behavior, migration, and habitat preferences of this little-known species. Researchers hope to use this information to enhance conservation strategies for large freshwater fish.

The Role of Acoustic Tagging

Largest Freshwater Fish
The giant freshwater stingray was captured the night of June 13, 2022 near Koh Preah island in the Mekong River in northern Cambodia. It was accidentally hooked by a 42-year-old fisherman named Moul Thun.Chhut Chheana / Wonders of the Mekong

Acoustic tagging technology plays a crucial role in monitoring the giant stingray’s movements. This method allows researchers to gather detailed data on the fish’s behavior and interactions within its environment, contributing to broader ecological studies.

Public Reaction and Media Coverage

Largest Freshwater Fish
Wonders of the Mekong team members, Cambodian fishery officials and villagers took photos with the giant freshwater stingray.Chhut Chheana / Wonders of the Mekong

The news of the record-breaking catch has garnered widespread media attention and public interest. The extraordinary size of the stingray and the story of its capture have captivated audiences, raising awareness about the importance of freshwater biodiversity.

How Was the Giant Freshwater Stingray Discovered?

Round stingray (Urobatis halleri) at the Bolsa Chica wetlands, California.
Round stingray (Urobatis halleri) at the Bolsa Chica wetlands, California. By robin miller from studio city CA – ray, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11603396

The giant freshwater stingray was accidentally hooked by fisherman Moul Thun on June 13, 2022, near Koh Preah island on the Mekong River. The fish weighed 661 pounds and measured about 13 feet in length.

What Role Did the Wonders of Mekong Project Play?

Round stingray
Round stingray. By michael h j c from California, USA – Stingray, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9505266

The Wonders of Mekong project helped tag, measure, and release the giant stingray. Their research focuses on studying and preserving the biodiversity of the Mekong River, making them pivotal in documenting and tracking the fish.

Why Is the Mekong River Important for Giant Freshwater Fish?

Pregnant round stingray
Pregnant round stingray. By Coughdrop12 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=127467246

The Mekong River hosts a rich biodiversity and deep pools that provide a habitat for large freshwater species. It is considered a critical area for maintaining the health and diversity of these ecosystems.

What Are the Potential Threats to the Giant Stingray’s Habitat?

Stingray eye
Stingray eye By Philippe Guillaume – her eye, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8436400

Potential threats include hydropower development in the upper Mekong region. Researchers aim to understand the ecological importance of this area to prevent unsustainable development that could harm the stingray’s habitat.

What Can Be Learned from the Stingray’s Acoustic Tagging?

A round stingray
A Round stingray (Urobatis halleri) By Coughdrop12 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=116617260

Acoustic tagging allows researchers to monitor the giant stingray’s movements and gather data on its behavior and habitat. This information is crucial for understanding the species and developing effective conservation strategies.

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