Thai fishermen captured a 646-pound catfish thought to have actually been the world’s biggest freshwater fish ever before recorded, a researcher claimed Thursday. The 8.9 foot lengthy Mekong large catfish to be the heaviest tape-recorded fish due to the fact that Thailand started keeping records in 1981.

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The villagers had actually hoped to market the fish to ecological groups, i m sorry planned to relax it to generate upriver, however it died before it might be handed over. The catfish was later sold in piece to villagers to be eaten.

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

Very little is known around the ecology the the species.

The worldMekong large catfish, the world’s largest catfish. Photograph by Suthep Kritsanavarin, civilization Wildlife Fund

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Thais Hunt because that a Bear-Sized Catfish

By SETH MYDANS

International Herald Tribune

Published: respectable 25, 2005

The monster fish announced chin with four resounding whacks that its tail, thrashing against the network that had trapped it in the pale brown water that the Mekong River.

It to be a fish dubbed the giant catfish and also it was the dimension of a grizzly bear, taking 5 boatmen one hour to traction it in and 10 men to elevator it as soon as they got to the shore in this remote town in northern Thailand.

It was only after their capture had to be chopped into pieces and also sold that they learned just how special that was. In ~ 2.7 meters, or 9 feet, long and weighing 293 kilograms, or 646 pounds, it may be the best freshwater fish ever recorded.

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

When the huge catfish was captured in May, Zeb Hogan, a biologist, rushed here from an expedition in Mongolia to take a look. It to be his an initial trophy in a task to identify and also study the world’s largest freshwater fish in the hope of protecting their habitats and slowing your extinction.

The world’s largest catfish

Weighing as much as 660 lb (300 kg) and measuring up to 10.5 ft (3.2 m), Pangasianodon gigas is not only the world’s biggest catfish; that is also noted in the Guinness publication of civilization Records as the world’s largest freshwater fish.

Sponsored by the national Geographic culture and the people Wildlife Fund, Hogan has embarked on an 18-month expedition that will certainly take the to 5 continents and an ext than a dozen rivers.

Some types may already be also rare come study, however he has started with the Mekong, which he said had seven varieties of huge fish, more than any type of other river, in addition to at the very least 750 other species.

All that them are threatened, as room fish in rivers almost everywhere the world, by overfishing, pollution and development, including significant dam projects.

The Mekong gigantic catfish (Pangasianodon gigas) may be the an initial to disappear native the river, that said. The couple of that remain deserve to be spotted currently only in central Cambodia and also here, just listed below the golden Triangle, where northern Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet.

So far, Hogan said, no one has actually made a credible claim to top this year’s trophy. It is 5 times the size of the best catfish tape-recorded in the united States, a 121-pound Mississippi river fish the was also caught in May.

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

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

“A many of human being say the arapaima is the largest freshwater fish, however when girlfriend look in ~ the records, there’s no reliable record of any over 200 kilograms, and certainly no over 300 kilograms,” he said.

Hogan has his own personal candidates, the Chinese paddlefish in the Yangtze and also the huge stingray below in the Mekong.

“I witnessed a stingray in Cambodia in 2003 the was 4.13 meter long,” the said. “It had a key 2 meters across and 2 meter long, and also the tail to be 2.13 meters long. The fish can have been it, yet we couldn’t weigh it. The was too big.”

When he started to spread the native in Cambodia that he was looking for large fish, Hogan said, it to be stingray he had in mind. “I assumed I’d get 50 phone call calls the very first week, yet nobody contacted us,” that said. “So they’re more rare 보다 I thought they were.”

The gigantic catfish have actually been disappearing fast, from much more than 60 a year recorded here in the at an early stage 1990s to simply a couple of today. Their decline coincides with the completion of the an initial of a collection of dams being developed upriver in southerly China.

“The damming and also the blasting the rapids have adjusted the habitat and also the river flow,” said Boonluen Chinarath, the town chief in hat Khrai, who said he had captured as many as 100 gigantic catfish in almost a half-century of fishing.

“The flow rises and falls more quickly than before,” that said. “Maybe it’s increase today and also maybe it’s under tomorrow.”

Many fish cue their migrations to the rise and also fall that the water, Hogan said. The gigantic catfish are caught in April and May as soon as they swim upriver come spawn just north the here.

Before the headed the end on might 1, one of the fishermen, Thirayuth Panthayom, made sure luck would be on his side. He stated he prayed at the shrine come the God of Catfish and also begged his watercraft to assist him: “Please, miss out on Boat, allow me capture something today and also I’ll sacrifice a chicken because that you.”

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

His father, together owner that the boat, earned practically 80,000 baht, or around $2,000, because that the fish native the town fishing association, a happiness in landscape Thailand. Thirayuth, favor each that the other 4 members of the crew, obtained 7,000 baht of this, i beg your pardon he stated he provided right ago to his father.

As component of its permit to fish for these threatened catfish, the town association then offered the fish come the department of Fisheries, i m sorry harvests your eggs and sperm as part of a captive breeding program.

After that, the fish space to be returned to the river. But, as generally happens, this fish, a female, did not survive the harvest procedure, in i beg your pardon its belly is intensely massaged and also manipulated.

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

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