Massive 661-lb. stingray may be the largest freshwater fish ever caught

WATCH: A researcher said on Saturday that the recent discovery of a giant stingray in Cambodia, weighing 300 kilograms and measuring 3.9 metres in length, marked the recording of the world's "biggest freshwater fish." A team of international researchers and fishermen caught, recorded and released the stingray in the Mekong river in Cambodia on June 14.

A fisherman in northern Cambodia got quite the surprise when he accidentally hooked what researchers say is the world’s largest freshwater-only fish.

The fish, which was identified as a giant stingray, weighed 661 pounds and measured a whopping 13 feet in length, from snout to tail.

According to National Geographic, the fisherman, Moul Thun, caught the stingray on June 13 near Koh Preah island on the Mekong River in the Stung Treng area.

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The next morning, Thun, 42, contacted scientists from the Cambodia-based research group Wonders of the Mekong, who were sent to help the fisherman evaluate the creature.

The scientists and numerous locals manoeuvred the giant stingray onto a tarp to assess, measure and weigh the fish on three scales placed next to each other.

The stingray was affectionately named Boramy, which means “full moon” in Khmer, the official and national language of Cambodia. They determined that the stingray was female and in great health. The researchers then tagged the fish for tracking and set it free.

On Instagram, Wonders of the Mekong wrote that this was the first-ever instance of an acoustic tagging effort of a freshwater stingray. The tag and its signals will allow researchers to track the stingray’s movements and hopefully discover more about how the species behaves in the Mekong.

Science writer Jason Bittel tweeted about the stingray’s discovery, sharing his amazement.

In a thread posted to Twitter, Bittel wrote that the Wonders of the Mekong team was able to set up 36 underwater acoustic receiver stations to better track the tagged stingray. He said this will allow the team to track the animal for up to a year — something that has never been done before.

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Bittel also replied to one eagle-eyed Twitter user who spotted a rag on the stingray’s tail.

He said the simple tie disables the fish’s ability to sting attackers — a sting so powerful it can go through human bone.

Zeb Hogan, a biologist best known for his work documenting large creatures on the TV show Monster Fish, told National Geographic the discovery of the massive stingray fills him with hope.

“It proves these underwater leviathans, which are in critical danger, still exist,” he told National Geographic.

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The Wonders of the Mekong team shared a video of the stingray being released back into the wild.

In the video, the group of locals and researchers are seen moving the stingray’s tarp back into the water. Many people can be heard saying “bye bye” to the animal as the tarp is removed from under it and it disappears into the murky water.

The Wonders of the Mekong researchers told National Geographic the stingray is expected to survive in the wild.

NBC reported the fisherman was paid market price for his catch.

“It works because the fish is not a highly prized food fish,” Hogan told NBC.

The stingray broke the previous record for largest freshwater catch, formerly held by a 646-pound Mekong giant catfish. The catfish was caught in 2005, also on the Mekong River, in Thailand.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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