Giant Fishes of Mekong face extinction

Posted in Asia | August 19, 2010 | Comment Now

Around 50 million years ago, a collision somewhere in Asia caused for the might Mekong River to be born. The river emerges from the towering and vast mountain ranges that surround the Tibetan plateau; and it then begins its ever-so-long descent into the Greater Mekong region that lies in South East Asia; and this is exactly where it gets its name from.

The length of this river is a whopping 4,800,000 meters.  The Mekong River begins in the Tibetan plateau and it runs through the entire stretch of Yunnan, Thailand and Cambodia. It then, eventually, disperses itself in the South China Sea.

This River is the longest in the Southeast Asia. This River ends up fostering a number of different species; and is home to many more species than you’ll even find in the Amazon. It is the proud house of around 1,100 species of fish that live here.

Around 170 different deep water pools can be found along the stretch of this river; and the deepest of these is around 80 meters. Deep pools end up playing an important role in the survival and multiplying of a number of large fish species. They can live and procreate here; thus helping maintain the integrity and productivity seen in the ecosystem.

The List of Global Top 10 Giant Freshwater Fish -
Common Name Scientific Name Maximum Weight


River System
Giant freshwater




600kg (500cm, 240cm

disc width)

Mekong River Basin
Chinese paddlefish Psephurus gladius 500kg (700cm) Yangtze River Basin
Mekong giant catfish Pangasianodon gigas 350kg (300cm) Mekong River Basin
Wels catfish Silurus glanis 306kg (500cm) Widespread in Europe

and Asia


(laulau; lechero)



200kg (360cm) Amazon River Basin
Giant pangasius

(dog-eating catfish)



300kg (300cm) Mekong River Basin
Giant barb Catlocarpio siamensis 300kg (300cm) Mekong River Basin

(Table: Courtesy National Geographic)

Threats That Mekong Faces –

The most urgent threat that Mekong is faced with right now is that the hydropower dams that have been planned on the main river and its large tributaries will end up harming the animal life in this region. This will end up disrupting many of the stages that there are in a fish’s life – the spawning, the growing and the breeding. A large number of the fishes in this River are the migratory types; and need their unobstructed journeys across a large stretch of this River.

Damns will cause for a habitat loss for these fish species; and might even cause for coastal erosion.

The worst part is that the Mekong is home to some exclusive species – such species that you will not find elsewhere in the world. These species then become at the risk of extinction if these kinds of hydropower dams come into existence.

The Giant Catfish of the Mekong will probably be the worst hit if they cannot make their journey owing to the Sayabouly dam.

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