Baku, May 13, AZERTAC
Fishers in Cambodia recently received a massive surprise when they reeled in a gigantic 400-pound stingray.
The hefty ray was dragged up from the murky depths of the Mekong River after it swallowed a fish that had already been snagged on the fishers' line.
The monstrous ray, which has been identified as a giant freshwater stingray (Urogymnus polylepis), was accidentally caught by locals on May 5 in the Stung Treng province in northeastern Cambodia. The fishers immediately alerted team members from the Wonders of the Mekong project — a conservation group run by the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), in collaboration with local fishing authorities — who helped remove the fishing line and measure the ray before safely releasing it back into the river.
The massive specimen weighed a hefty 397 pounds (180 kilograms) and measured 6 feet (1.9 meters) wide and 13 feet (4 m) in length including its whip-like tail, which terminated in a 6 inch (15 centimeter) venomous, serrated barb, UNR representatives said in a statement.
Giant freshwater stingrays are the world's largest stingray species and "are contenders for the title of world's largest freshwater fish," Zeb Hogan, a UNR fish biologist and director of the Wonders of the Mekong project, told Live Science.
The current record-holder for the largest fish in the Mekong River — which flows through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam — is a 646-pound (293 kg) Mekong giant catfish (Pangasianodon gigas) that was caught in Thailand in 2005, Hogan said. Giant freshwater stingrays can likely grow larger than this, he added. In 2009, a giant freshwater stingray caught in Thailand was estimated to weigh between 550 and 770 pounds (249 and 349 kg) but was never officially weighed.
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