The latter part of this week has been highlighting some of the record holding animals on our planet. I thought we would keep the trend going by studying the world’s largest freshwater species…that has been recorded. To do this, we need to take a short trip to the Mekong River located in Southeast Asia (China, Thailand, Vietnam, etc). Once here, we will be looking for a very rare fish known as the Mekong Giant Catfish, which just happens to be a member of the shark catfish family and is native to this one large river. You will definitely want to bring your camera for this trip as I guarantee you will be flabbergasted by the sheer size of this impressive creature.
Largest Freshwater Fish Ever Caught
On May 1st, 2005, the largest freshwater fish was caught and although they attempted to keep this massive beast alive, it unfortunately died shortly after being captured, but the meat did not go to waste as it helped feed the villagers. Considering that this record holding fish was 2.7 m (8.9 feet) long and weighed 293 kilograms (646 pounds), I am guessing it fed the entire village….more than once. To put this fish into perspective, it was pretty much the size of a Grizzly Bear. Could you imagine reeling this sucker in?
On the Brink of Extinction
While there may be more of these massive freshwater fish in the Mekong River, the Mekong Giant Catfish is listed as critically endangered, so I wouldn’t expect seeing too many more 600+ pound fish surfacing anytime soon. What caused the demise of this once plentiful fish? I know this may come as a shock to you but believe it or not it was human interference. I know, I was surprised as well (I really wish I had a sarcastic font :)). A few of the major factors for this rapid decline include over-fishing, habitat destruction and damming of the main Mekong River tributaries. Some researchers believe that there are only a few hundred adults remaining in the wild. If this is true, we may be too late in protecting this unique specimen but the optimist in me feels like there is still time to save this mammoth freshwater fish.