Giant River Stingrays Found In Mekong River Near Thai City..
A British man has netted what’s considered the largest freshwater fish ever caught anywhere.
Ian Welch, a freshwater biologist who was tagging stingrays in the Mekong region of Northern Thailand, Myanmar (Burma) and Laos, fought for 90 minutes to land the 770 pound (349 kg) stingray.
Measuring 7 x 7 feet with a tail said to be 10 foot long, it took the help of twelve other men to lift the giant fish out of the water.
“It dragged me across the boat,” Welch, 45, said “I knew it was going to a big one. As soon as we saw it there was just silence. Everyone was in awe of this thing.”
Once out of the water, the team soon realized the giant stingray was actually a pregnant female who’d just given birth – the ‘plate-sized’ baby clung to the rough skin on the mothers back.
Everyone admired the ray as Welch and the team from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, tagged and released her back into the Mekong River.
The catch broke the world record for the largest freshwater fish caught by a rod, a record that was previously held by a team of fishermen who caught a 646 pound (293kg ) giant catfish, also from the Mekong River.
There are many unverified accounts of stingrays growing well over 20 feet (6 meters) in length, however their ability to elude capture from man and other natural predators has made it difficult to fully study the creatures. When caught, the stingray burrows deep into the bed of the river, covering itself with up to 200 pounds of mud, and making it near impossible to lift out of the water.
Wuttichai “Boy” Khuensuwan, co-owner of the fishing outfitter Fishsiam, said it’s like “hooking into a submarine.”
There are stories of hooked stingrays dragging boats for miles up and down the river, and even pulling boats underwater. For Welch, the struggle brought untold amounts of joy:
“As a lifelong angler and biologist it is great my passions have come together.”
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