November 19, 2007
Captured just before midnight on November 13 by fishers in Cambodia,
this Mekong giant catfish
is 8 feet long (2.4 meters long) ands weighs 450 pounds (204 kilograms).
"This is the only giant catfish that has been caught this year so far, making it the worst year on record for catch of giant fish species," said Zeb Hogan (far right), a fisheries biologist at the University of Reno in Nevada.
After collecting data on the fish, Hogan released it unharmed.
Giant catfish were once plentiful throughout Southeast Asia's Mekong River watershed, including the Tonle Sap Riverhome of the fish in these exclusive pictures taken near Phnom Penh.
But in the last century the Mekong giant catfish population has declined by 95 to 99 percent, scientists say. Only a few hundred adult giant catfish may remain.
Since 2000 five to ten fish have been caught by accident each year throughout the Mekong area.
Earlier this year Hogan, a National Geographic "emerging explorer," launched the three-year Megafishes Project
to document the world's giant freshwater fish (See photos of other giant fish.
The project is funded in part by the National Geographic Conservation Trust
and Expeditions Council
. (National Geographic News is owned by the National Geographic Society.)Stefan Lovgren
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Photograph courtesy Zeb Hogan/University of Nevada-Reno/National Geographic Emerging Explorer