Thai fishermen caught a 646-pound catfish believed to have been the world’s largest freshwater fish ever recorded, a researcher said Thursday. The 8.9 foot lengthy Mekong gigantic catfish to be the heaviest tape-recorded fish due to the fact that Thailand started maintaining records in 1981.

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The villagers had hoped to offer the fish to ecological groups, which planned to relax it to spawn upriver, but it died before it might be handed over. The catfish was later on sold in piece to villagers to it is in eaten.

The Mekong gigantic catfish is considered among the world’s most threatened catfish types due to dam construction and also habitat deterioration along the Mekong river. Follow to National geographical only 11 and eight fish were caught in 2001 and also 2002 respectively. In 2003, fishers captured six large catfish in Cambodia, all of which were released as component of the Mekong Fish conservation Project.

Very small is known around the ecology that the species.

The worldMekong giant catfish, the world’s biggest catfish. Photo by Suthep Kritsanavarin, civilization Wildlife Fund

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Thais Hunt for a Bear-Sized Catfish

By SETH MYDANS

International Herald Tribune

Published: august 25, 2005

The monster fish announced itself with four resounding whacks the its tail, thrashing versus the net that had trapped it in the pale brown water of the Mekong River.

It to be a fish called the gigantic catfish and also it was the size of a grizzly bear, taking five boatmen one hour to pull it in and 10 men to elevator it when they reached the coast in this remote town in north Thailand.

It was just after their capture had been chopped right into pieces and also sold the they learned how special the was. At 2.7 meters, or 9 feet, long and also weighing 293 kilograms, or 646 pounds, it might be the greatest freshwater fish ever before recorded.

But in one of the world’s much more surprising mysteries, nobody really knows i m sorry is the biggest species of fish lurking in the waters the the Mekong or the Amazon or the Yangtze or the Congo or the Colorado or Lake Baikal.

When the gigantic catfish was caught in May, Zeb Hogan, a biologist, rushed right here from an expedition in Mongolia to take a look. It was his very first trophy in a project to identify and also study the world’s biggest freshwater fish in the expect of protecting their habitats and also slowing your extinction.

The world’s largest catfish

Weighing up to 660 lb (300 kg) and measuring up to 10.5 ft (3.2 m), Pangasianodon gigas is not only the world’s largest catfish; the is also detailed in the Guinness book of people Records together the world’s biggest freshwater fish.

Sponsored by the nationwide Geographic culture and the people Wildlife Fund, Hogan has embarked on an 18-month exploration that will certainly take that to five continents and an ext than a dozen rivers.

Some species may already be also rare come study, but he has started with the Mekong, which he said had actually seven varieties of vast fish, much more than any type of other river, along with at least 750 other species.

All the them room threatened, as space fish in rivers anywhere the world, through overfishing, pollution and development, including major dam projects.

The Mekong huge catfish (Pangasianodon gigas) may be the very first to disappear native the river, the said. The few that remain deserve to be spotted currently only in main Cambodia and here, just below the golden Triangle, where northern Thailand, Laos and also Myanmar meet.

So far, Hogan said, no one has actually made a credible case to optimal this year’s trophy. The is five times the size of the greatest catfish taped in the unified States, a 121-pound Mississippi flow fish the was additionally caught in May.

“I store expecting world to send me picture or records of larger fish, yet nobody has,” the said. The candidate types must flourish to at the very least 200 pounds or much longer than 6 feet – fish choose sturgeon, lungfish, gars, stingrays, carp, salmon, perch and also paddlefish.

Already Hogan has actually a repertoire of unconfirmed fish stories – 3-meter catfish in Bulgaria, 500-kilogram stingrays in southeast Asia and also 5-meter arapaima in the Amazon, none of them well documented.

“A many of people say the arapaima is the biggest freshwater fish, but when girlfriend look in ~ the records, there’s no reliable document of any over 200 kilograms, and certainly not over 300 kilograms,” he said.

Hogan has actually his own personal candidates, the Chinese paddlefish in the Yangtze and the large stingray right here in the Mekong.

“I observed a stingray in Cambodia in 2003 the was 4.13 meter long,” he said. “It had a bowl 2 meters across and 2 meters long, and also the tail to be 2.13 meter long. That fish could have to be it, however we couldn’t weigh it. That was also big.”

When he began to spread the indigenous in Cambodia the he to be looking for gigantic fish, Hogan said, it was stingray he had in mind. “I thought I’d get 50 phone call calls the very first week, but nobody contacted us,” the said. “So they’re an ext rare 보다 I believed they were.”

The gigantic catfish have been disappearing fast, from an ext than 60 a year caught here in the early on 1990s to just a few today. Their decrease coincides through the completion of the an initial of a series of dams being developed upriver in southerly China.

“The damming and also the blasting that rapids have adjusted the habitat and the flow flow,” claimed Boonluen Chinarath, the town chief in cap Khrai, who stated he had recorded as countless as 100 gigantic catfish in almost a half-century of fishing.

“The flow rises and falls an ext quickly 보다 before,” he said. “Maybe it’s up today and also maybe it’s under tomorrow.”

Many fish cue their migrations to the rise and also fall the the water, Hogan said. The giant catfish are captured in April and also May when they swim upriver to spawn simply north that here.

Before he headed the end on may 1, one of the fishermen, Thirayuth Panthayom, made sure luck would certainly be top top his side. He said he prayed in ~ the shrine come the God the Catfish and begged his boat to aid him: “Please, miss Boat, allow me record something today and I’ll sacrifice a chicken because that you.”

He had actually only been the end for 15 minutes when, that said, he saw the fish smack the water four times through its tail – “Pung! Pung! Pung! Pung!” It took his crew an hour to pull it in.

His father, as owner the the boat, earned practically 80,000 baht, or about $2,000, for the fish indigenous the village fishing association, a luck in landscape Thailand. Thirayuth, like each the the other four members that the crew, got 7,000 baht of this, which he claimed he provided right ago to his father.

As component of its permit to fish because that these threatened catfish, the town association then offered the fish to the department of Fisheries, i beg your pardon harvests your eggs and sperm as component of a captive breeding program.

After that, the fish are to be went back to the river. But, as normally happens, this fish, a female, go not endure the harvest procedure, in i m sorry its belly is vigorously massaged and also manipulated.

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In the end, the males of the town cut that into large steaks and also sold it. When he do the efforts a bit, Thirayuth said, it taste soft and also sweet and also mild.

“It’s tough to describe,” the said. “You have to shot it yourself.”