Last week a group of scientists and conservationists were fishing in Thailand’s Mae Klong River when they reeled up a freshwater stingray measuring 7.9-feet across, 14-feet long, and weighing an estimated 800-pounds.
Among the scientists on the fishing expedition was ABC and Animal Planet TV host Jeff Corwin, best known for his after school nature programming that was there to fill the void when the world was tragically robbed of Steve Irwin (coincidentally in a stingray-related accident).
The ray was caught and released in about 65 feet (20 meters) of water in the Amphawa District, about an hour outside Bangkok.
Nantarika Chansue, a veterinarian and professor at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, helped catch and measure what she calls the “big one.” The ray (Himantura polylepis or H. chaophraya) was 7.9 feet (2.4 meters) across and 14 feet (4.3 meters) long and weighed an estimated 700 to 800 pounds (318 to 363 kilograms), she said via e-mail.
The team was unable to get an exact weight because “it’s really hard to weigh these things without hurting them, because they are such big, awkward animals,” says Zeb Hogan, a National Geographic Explorer and a professor of biology at the University of Nevada, Reno.
“Certainly [this] was a huge fish, even compared to other giant freshwater stingrays, and definitely ranks among the largest freshwater fish in the world,” he says.
Nantarika performed a portable ultrasound on the ray while it was held in a cage in the river, revealing that the animal was pregnant with two fetal rays. Records show that she was also pregnant when caught in 2009.
In 2009, the ray was 6.5 feet (2 meters) across and 15 feet (4.58 meters) long. “Her tail might have been shortened by some accident,” says Nantarika. The ray also had bite marks that may have come from a male ray.
What kind of fucking male stingray is going to have the balls to attack an 800-pound, 14-foot long female? That’s simply ludicrous behavior!
The jury is still out on whether or not this estimated 800-pound freshwater stingray is the largest freshwater fish ever caught. The Guinness Book of World Records states that the ‘Mekong Giant Catfish’ of the Mekong River Basin (same general region in which this stingray was caught) is the largest freshwater fish species in the world, claiming that species of catfish can grow to over six hundred pounds.
The ‘Conservation Institute‘ lists Russia’s Beluga Sturgeon as the largest freshwater fish species in the world, growing upwards of 2,500-pounds…which is simply insane. They state however that “Beluga sturgeon are euryhaline, meaning they can swim freely between salt and fresh water.” Therefore it is not strictly a ‘freshwater’ fish and therefore cannot be included.
And as for whether or not a stingray is a ‘fish’, IT IS. The very first line of the Wikipedia entry for ‘Stingray’ puts that speculation to rest: “Stingrays are a group of rays, which are cartilaginous fish related to sharks.”
The reason the jury is undecided on whether or not this is the largest freshwater fish ever caught is because the team of scientists were unable to actually weigh the large stingray, and they only took estimates of the ray’s weight. Therefore it cannot be said for certain that this was the largest freshwater specimen ever taken…even though it is.
Here’s a video of the same 800 pound stingray that was caught back in 2009:
Jeff Corwin and his team filmed their historic catch for an episode of his TV show ‘Ocean Mysteries’ to be aired at a later date, details of which you can find over HERE on National Geographic.
If you’re interested in seeing some more gigantic freshwater fish you REALLY should check out this 266-pound catfish I reported on that was caught back in February in the Po Delta of Italy.