Scientists got a rare chance to study a giant freshwater stingray in Cambodia recently. It measured 13 feet to the end of its tail and weighed nearly 400 pounds. Despite its size, it’s not a well-studied species. It lives in the murky waters of the Mekong River, which runs from China through Southeast Asia and includes pools up to 260 feet deep. The researchers use submersibles and other camera equipment to study the ecosystem. They got this up close and personal opportunity when the stingray got hooked on a fishing line while eating a smaller fish.
The video, which we saw on Boing Boing, shows the release of the massive creature back into the river unharmed. According to the University of Nevada’s press release, the researchers collaborated with the Cambodian Fisheries Association. They have a network of local fishers that report when they catch giant fish and rays. There are reports of even bigger specimens.
The scientists also conduct surveys in the community and local markets. The stingray is not a species people eat on a regular basis but they do sometimes catch it on their lines. Dozens of existing and proposed hydroelectric dams along the Mekong threaten the ecosystem, which in turn threatens the main food supply for the area. The scientists also recorded evidence of plastic trash and ghost nets, which are abandoned fishing gear that continue to trap and kill animals.
Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth.