Caught in the Mekong River, a team of fishermen struggled for more than an hour to haul the creature in. It tipped the scales at 646 pounds (293 kilograms).
Despite efforts to keep the Mekong giant catfish alive, it died and was later eaten by villagers.
Captured just before midnight on November 13 by fishers in Cambodia, this Mekong giant catfish is 8 feet long (2.4 meters long) ands weighs 450 pounds (204 kilograms). After collecting data on the fish, Hogan released it unharmed.
The Mekong giant catfish (Pangasianodon gigas) species is listed as critically endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), which means it faces a high risk of extinction in the wild. The rare specimen, captured in Chiang Khong district, is the largest since Thailand began keeping records in 1981.
The world’s largest scaleless freshwater fish lives a tenuous existence in the murky brown waters of Southeast Asia’s Mekong River. Capable of reaching an almost mythical 10 feet (3 meters) in length and 650 pounds (295 kilograms), Mekong giant catfish live mainly in the lower half of the Mekong River system, in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Once plentiful throughout the Mekong basin, population numbers have dropped by some 95 percent over the past century, and this critically endangered behemoth now teeters on the brink of extinction. Overfishing is the primary culprit in the giant catfish’s decline, but damming of Mekong tributaries, destruction of spawning and breeding grounds, and siltation have taken a huge toll. Some experts think there may only be a few hundred adults left.
Mekong giant catfish have very low-set eyes and are silvery to dark gray on top and whitish to yellow on the bottom. They are toothless herbivores who live off the plants and algae in the river. Juveniles wear the characteristic catfish “whiskers,” called barbels, but these features shrink as they age.
International efforts are under way to save the species. It is now illegal in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia to harvest giant catfish. And recently in Thailand, a group of fishers pledged to stop catching giant catfish to honor the king’s 60th year on the throne. However, enforcement of fishing restrictions in many isolated villages along the Mekong is nearly impossible, and illicit and bycatch takings continue.
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- Diet: Herbivore Average lifespan in the wild: More than 60 years Size: Up to 10 ft (3 m)
- Weight: Up to 650 lbs (295 kg)
- Group name: School
- Did you know? The largest freshwater fish ever recorded was a Mekong giant catfish caught in northern Thailand in 2005. It was nearly nine feet long (2.7 meters) and weighed 646 pounds (293 kilograms).
source: National Geographic