At nearly 800 pounds and 14 feet long, a massive stingray caught in Thailand’s Mae Klong River could take the title of the world’s largest freshwater fish ever taken on rod and reel—and using a 300-pound test line, no less.
The capture was made by a group of scientists and anglers from a small boat in the Amphawa District last week. Stingrays fight differently than other fish when hooked, but the epic battle to catch this monster was no less challenging. It took several hours and multiple anglers rotating on the rod to land the large stingray, eventually requiring seven men to herd it into a specially-designed net before it could be taken out of the water to be examined. American TV host and nature conservationist Jeff Corwin, who led the team, called the fish simply a “behemoth.” Corwin wrote on his Facebook that the team was not able to weigh the ray, due to the stress that such a process would put on the ray, but he was confident with his team’s estimate.
“We have caught over 450 different stingrays and our estimations have been proved highly accurate on the rare occasions we have weighed this species,” Rick Humphries of the British company Fishiam, whose fishing guides assisted with the capture, told the Daily Mail.
According to National Geographic, the Guinness Book of World Records currently lists the Mekong giant catfish as the world’s largest freshwater fish. The record holder to beat is 646-pound catfish caught also in Thailand in 2005. A spokesperson from Guinness World Records said that Corwin’s team would have to submit an official application if they want to challenge that record.
Although rare, giant freshwater stingrays can actually grow much larger than even the Mekong catfish. Scientists believe that the upper limit for the species is an astounding 1,300 pounds. The creature is not generally aggressive, but as its name suggests the stingray does carry a 15-inch barb that is coated in a toxic mucus and is capable of piercing even bone. Corwin said that he and his team took great care to cover the stinger as soon as they corralled the ray into its pen. Once the anglers brought the fish into the shallows, a team of scientists took over to measure the beast.
“Certainly [this] was a huge fish, even compared to other giant freshwater stingrays, and definitely ranks among the largest freshwater fish in the world,” Zeb Hogan, professor of biology at the University of Nevada, told National Geographic.
Not surprisingly, a stingray of this size does not go unnoticed. Hogan was part of a team that previously caught the same stingray back in 2009. Fellow professor and veterinarian Nantarika Chansue was present during both captures, and found in both instances that the ray was actually pregnant. This led researchers to assume that the section of river she was caught in is actually a nursery ground. It is a small spot of good news for a species that, due to habitat loss and population, is suffering a steep decline. Corwin said that the data gleaned from the capture, as well as that of other giant freshwater stingrays, will be used for the preservation of the species. Video of the catch itself will be airing later this year as part of his show on ABC, Ocean Mysteries.
You can see a video of the ray in its pen below.
Image from Facebook