Popular Mechanics –
If you’re a fan of giant fish, you already know about the Mekong River. Now, familiarize yourself with the new record-holder in the largest freshwater fish category: a giant stingray that measures about 13 feet long and weighs 660 pounds. Earlier this month, a local fisherman caught the beast in the Mekong River, located in northeastern Cambodia.
The stingray—which researchers with the Wonders of the Mekong conservation project saved—beat out the previous freshwater record-holder, a 646-pound catfish found in Thailand in 2005, also in the Mekong River. But how did these fish become so huge in the first place?
Zeb Hogan, Ph.D., a research biologist at the University of Nevada, Reno and director of the Wonders of Mekong project, tells Popular Mechanics that finding a fish of this size offers “an indication that this stretch of the Mekong River, the longest remaining free-flowing section, is still relatively healthy.”
Hogan says giant stingray populations have declined in other regions of southeast Asia more heavily impacted by pollution, dams, and overfishing.
The Wonders of the Mekong project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, has partnered with the Cambodian Fishers Administration and worked with local communities to improve conservation efforts along the river.