It took ninety minutes and thirteen men to reel in an astounding specimen of giant freshwater stingray on the Ban Pakong River in Thailand. At seven feet wide and weighing an estimated 580 pounds(265 kilograms), the monstrous fish is thought to be the largest freshwater fish ever caught with a rod and line, according to Fishsiam, a company that provides fishing tours in Thailand.
After being brought ashore, the giant freshwater stingray was thoroughly studied by ichthyologist Dr. Zeb Hogan, who was working with Fishsiam on a documentary for National Geographic on the species. The giant freshwater stingray was found to be pregnant, forcing the scientists to estimate its weight rather than risk weighing it.
The giant freshwater stingray. Photo courtesy of Fishsiam.
The great prize was caught by Ian Welch, a British ichthyologist, who described reeling it in to the British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph.
“It dragged me across the boat and would have pulled me in had my colleague not grabbed my trousers – it was like the whole earth had just moved. I knew it was going to a big one. It buried itself on the bottom and the main fight was trying to get it off the floor.”
After study, the researchers released the monstrous fish back into the Maeklong River in the Samut Songkram province of Thailand. Fishsiam reports that it caught sixteen different stingrays during the time spent with Hogan and a National Geographic film crew on the Maeklong and the Ban Pakong River. Directed by Dean Johnson, a partner with production company Infocus Asia, the special on giant freshwater stingray will be entitled Monster Fish and air in late summer on the National Geographic Channel.
“Various groundbreaking research was carried out by Dr. Zeb Hogan and the Fishsiam team during the production which will be revealed in the show,” Rick Humphreys of Fishsiam told Mongabay.com. “The research is an on going effort to study populations of Giant freshwater stingray in Thailand and has official approval from the Dept of Fisheries in Thailand in addition to Thai veterinary scientists.”
In fifteen months the Fishsiam team has captured 74 giant freshwater stingrays for study, each one was released safely after data was collected.
Little is known about this leviathan. Unchanged for millions of years, they prey on clams and crabs by detecting the animal’s electric fields with a specialized sensor. Although it is unknown if the giant freshwater stingray is endangered, researchers believe their population has declined due to some portions of their habitat becoming degraded or lost altogether.
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