BIODIVERSITY- The monster of the Mekong. The largest freshwater fish, a stingray, was recorded by scientists on June 13 in the Mekong River which flows from the Tibetan plateau through China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. The discovery of this giant reassures the scientists on the quality of the water of the river which shelters billions of fish.
“In 20 years of research on giant fish from rivers and lakes on six continents, this is the largest freshwater fish we have encountered or documented anywhere in the world,” said Zeb Hogan. , a biologist who leads Wonders of the Mekong, a river conservation project, in a statement.
This ray indeed has an impressive wingspan of almost 4M long. But it is its weight of 300kgs that allows it to obtain the title of “biggest freshwater fish in the world”. It thus beats the previous record held by a 293 kg giant Mekong catfish caught in Thailand in 2005.
A fragile ecosystem
What a surprise for the fisherman when he caught this huge ray. He immediately contacted the team of researchers in charge of protecting the river’s biodiversity. Scientists hung a tag on the animal before releasing it. Freed, the ray sailed towards other horizons from dusk. Because she left before nightfall, researchers decided to call it “Boramy”, which means “full moon” in Khmer, the local language.
With this new discovery, scientists are especially delighted to have approached a giant freshwater stingray, an endangered species. “That means the aquatic environment is still pretty healthy,” explained Dr Zeb Hogan.
Protecting the ecosystems of the Tibetan plateau is necessary because its rivers are home to billions of fish on which millions of people living near the banks depend. Overfishing, dams and pollution threaten this fragile habitat.
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