Friday July 21, 2023

The New York Times

Researchers may have solved a big mystery surrounding a very big fish.

Around the world, freshwater fish are in trouble. That’s especially true of large species. But one recent episode surprised scientists: A massive stingray was pulled out of the Mekong River by Cambodian fishermen last year. The fish, a female, weighed 661 pounds, or about 300 kilograms, and set a record for the heaviest freshwater fish ever caught.

The discovery was surprising because the species, known as the giant freshwater stingray, like many of the other big fish of the Mekong, is listed as endangered. Yet, here was evidence that huge ones, somehow, still exist.

“Imagine an era where whale populations are in broad decline — numbers are declining dramatically, whales are getting smaller and are seldom seen — and then, all of a sudden, Moby Dick appears,” said Zeb Hogan, an aquatic ecologist at the University of Nevada, Reno. “It’s a shock and also opens the door to so many questions.”

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