Until recently, the record for the world’s largest freshwater fish was held by a giant Mekong catfish (Pangasianodon gigas) which was caught in the Mekong River in Thailand in 2005. It measured 2.7m from head to tail. tail and weighed 293 kg.
However, in June 2022, a Cambodian fisherman fishing in the Mekong River caught a giant freshwater stingray (Urogymnus polylepis) that claimed the title of the world’s largest freshwater fish. It measured 3.98 m in length (including tail) and 2.2 m in width. And it weighed 300 kg, about the equivalent of a grizzly bear.
It was named “Boramy”, which means “full moon” in the local Khmer language, because of its shape and the evening time of its release. It was measured and tagged by scientists working on the US-Cambodia Wonders of the Mekong Project in collaboration with the Cambodian Fisheries Administration, and returned to the river.
“This is an absolutely amazing discovery and warrants efforts to better understand the mysteries surrounding this species and the incredible stretch of river it lives in,” said giant fish expert Dr. Zeb Hogan, host of the TV series Monster Fish and series director. project, in the Guinness World Records.
“While fishermen in Cambodia tell stories of rays of up to 500 kg [1,100 lb], we have never been able to verify these reports. It is very fortunate that the ‘Wonders of the Mekong’ team was on site, that the fishermen called us and that the stingray was tagged and released.”
“I hope this capture will raise awareness about the extraordinary animals that live in the Mekong River, the river’s important fisheries globally and the importance of a healthy Mekong River to millions of people in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.”
The giant freshwater stingray, also known as whipray, is found in large rivers and estuaries, where it lives on the bottom and feeds on small fish and invertebrates. Its current range includes Southeast Asia and Borneo, although it is thought to have historically been more widely distributed in South and Southeast Asia.
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The species is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, facing a variety of threats including hunting for meat and recreation, capture for aquariums, and degradation and fragmentation of the habitat
What is the largest freshwater fish in Europe?
There seems to be no definitive answer. Some scientists give the honor to the Welsh catfish (a 127 kg individual was caught in Italy in 2015); others claim the title belongs to the beluga sturgeon.
Still others nominate the mangar, a little-known relative of the common barbel and a voracious predator whose name translates as “pike-like wolf barbel.” This behemoth inhabits the Tigris-Euphrates river system and is Turkey’s largest freshwater fish: one caught in 2001 reportedly weighed 111kg.
Main image: A female giant freshwater stingray. © Sinsamout Ounboundisane/FISHBIO