Named a burami – meaning “full moon” in the Khmer language – due to its swollen shape, the four-meter (13-foot) female was released back into the river after she was electronically tagged to allow scientists to monitor her movement and behaviour.
“This is very exciting news because it was the largest (freshwater) fish in the world,” said biologist Zeb Hogan, former host of “Monster Fish” on National Geographic and now part of Wonders of the Mekong, a conservation project. in the river.
“It’s also exciting news because it means this stretch of the Mekong is still healthy…. It’s a sign of hope that these huge fish still live (here).”
Burami Island was fished last week off the island of Koh Preah, which lies along Cambodia’s northern stretch of the river. The record was taken from a giant catfish weighing 645 pounds (293 kilograms) caught upstream in northern Thailand in 2005.
After a fisherman caught stingrays – an endangered species – he called the Wonders of the Mekong, who helped mark the ray and return it to the river.
The Mekong contains the third most diverse fish species in the world, according to its Rivers Commission — although overfishing, pollution, saltwater intrusion and sediment depletion have caused stocks to decline.
Stingrays in particular have been vulnerable to these changes, with mass death events, despite conservation measures in place including fishing restrictions and river rangers, according to Wonders of the Mekong.