Cambodian fishers on the Mekong River got a shock when they inadvertently hooked an endangered giant freshwater stingray 4m long and weighing 180kg, scientists said yesterday.
The female leviathan, one of Southeast Asia’s largest and rarest species of fish, was caught by accident last week in Stung Treng Province when it swallowed a smaller fish that had taken a baited hook.
An international team of experts on the US-funded Wonders of the Mekong project worked with the fishers to unhook the ray before weighing and measuring it, and returning it unharmed to the river.
Photo: AFP / WONDERS OF THE MEKONG / Chhut Chheana
The Mekong is a crucial habitat for a vast array of species large and small, but project leader Zeb Hogan, a fish biologist from the University of Nevada, said that the river’s underwater ecosystem is poorly understood.
“They are unseen worlds, underappreciated and out of sight,” Hogan said in a statement issued by his university.
More than 1,000 fish species call the Mekong home and the stingray is not the only giant lurking in the muddy waters — the giant catfish and giant barb also reach up to 3m long and 270kg.
The study group said in the statement that the remote location where the stingray was caught has pools up to 80m deep and could harbor even bigger specimens.
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