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Cambodian fisherman catches world’s largest freshwater fish, a 13-ft stingray

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A fisherman in Cambodia caught the world’s largest freshwater fish last Monday, a 13-foot stingray, in the Mekong River.

The fisherman reeled in the record-breaking ray just south of Stung Treng in northeastern Cambodia. The giant stingray weighed in at almost 300 pounds and measured about 13 feet from snout to tail. The previous record for largest freshwater fish was a 293-kilogram (646-pound) Mekong giant catfish found in Thailand in 2005.

Upon catching the creature, the fisherman alerted local wildlife experts, who arrived to examine the stingray. Scientists from the Wonders of the Mekong project were “stunned” at the size of the ray when they arrived after receiving the late-night call. “Yeah, when you see a fish this size, especially in freshwater, it is hard to comprehend, so I think all of our team was stunned,” said team leader Zeb Hogan.

The scientists tagged the fish with a tracker before releasing it so they can further study its movements and habits in order to help preserve it as the waterways they inhabit are diminished in size by man made dams, which hamper the species from growing to such large sizes.

“The giant stingray is a very poorly understood fish. Its name, even its scientific name, has changed several times in the last 20 years,” Hogan said. “It’s found throughout Southeast Asia, but we have almost no information about it. We don’t know about its life history. We don’t know about its ecology, about its migration patterns.”

The tracker will provide location data for the next year, which will give scientists an unprecedented look at the migratory patterns and location preferences of the mysterious, endangered species.

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