Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mekong Giant Catfish, CR ( critically endangered )

Mekong Giant Catfish
Pangasianodon gigas
CR ( critically endangered)

mixed media, hand sewn and beaded painted leather figure seated on hand made wooden chair
photograph by Bruce Mathews
in a private collection

Mekong Giant Catfish
Pangasianodon gigas
CR ( critically endangered)

In May of 2005, a 646 pound nine feet long giant catfish was caught in the Mekong River by a fisherman. This fish is the current record holder for the largest freshwater fish ever caught. Historically the Mekong Giant Catfish flourished in the Mekong River Basin. This catfish could be found in the freshwaters of the Tonle Sap Lake, Tonle Sap River in Cambodia, and the Mekong River which flows through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Local fisheries began reporting the disappearance of the species in the 1970s. Current population size is unknown for the Mekong Giant Catfish. The IUCN has qualified the species for Critically Endangered from estimations of past and current catch records over the last thirteen years which show a decline of more than 80% of the population.

Continuation of this species will not come easily. Fisheries in the Mekong Basin are on the rise. Loss and degradation of the catfish's habitat are serious threats also. Deforestation along the northern parts of the Mekong River area has caused increasing siltation of the Mekong mainstream. The rapids and whirlpool ecosystem within the "Golden Triangle" is the only part of the Mekong that the giant catfish use as a spawning ground. This portion of the river is slated to be reconfigured by a Mekong rapids blasting project sponsored by the governments of China, Burma, Thailand, and Lao People's Democratic Republic. With the removal of the rapids, navigation of the river channel will be easier for boats. Also the construction of dams along the river, like the Pak Mun Dam in Thailand, the catfish can not migrate back and forth to their historic spawning grounds.

Zeb Hogan, an American aquatic ecologist, leads the Mekong Fish Conservation Project in Cambodia. Their goal is to protect vulnerable populations of migratory fish in the Mekong River Basin. One of the supporters of this project is the National Geographic Society's Conservation Trust. As a part of this project, Hogan purchases live fish from Cambodian fishermen. The fish are weighed, measured, DNA samples gathered for genetic studies, tagged, and released back into the water. The record holding catfish caught in May of 2005 that was purchased from a fisherman was a part of this project. Unfortunately, the giant catfish died before it could be released. Optimistically though, this project should keep more endangered fish alive and allow scientists to gather valuable data about migration patterns, habitat use, and mortality rates. Hogan hopes this knowledge will lead to the creation of no-fishing zones and better management of Cambodian fisheries.


kerin rose said...

Kelly, this is both heartbreaking and awe inspiring, all at the same time....I love this sculpture....

Susan Tantlinger said...

Love your work. Thanks for posting such a clickable and enlargind photo so we can really see it and appreciate all the details. Thanks for not slapping a huge watermark over it either. I share that opinion. I'm not here to rip off your images, just to enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. Thanks again.

Patti Sandham said...

Wow your work is amazing! I love that your bring attention to issues like this. Very inspiring for me and making me rethink my art and presentation in a new way. thank you

Kelly said...

Thanks to each of you for your comments. I do appreciate your taking the time to write and share with me.