Some fishermen in the Mekong Delta pulled something really big out of their nets back in May: Truly, it was a whopper, but are there bigger fish? The view of the researcher quoted in the story is that no, as of now, he doesn’t have evidence of any bigger (freshwater) fish.
The monster fish was one of just three giant catfish caught in Thailand this year.
Before he headed out on May 1, one of the men who caught it, Thirayuth Panthayom, 29, made sure luck would be on his side. He said he prayed at the shrine of the God of Catfish and begged his boat to help him, “Please, Miss Boat, let me catch something today and I’ll sacrifice a chicken for you.”
He said he had only been out for 15 minutes when he saw the fish smack the water four times with its tail – “Pung! Pung! Pung! Pung!” It took his crew an hour to pull it in.
His father, as owner of the boat, earned nearly $2,000 for the fish from the village fishing association, a fortune in rural Thailand. Mr. Thirayuth, like the other four members of the crew, got $175 of this, which he said he gave right back to his father.
As required by its permit to fish for these endangered catfish, the village association then sold it to the Department of Fisheries, which harvests their eggs and sperm as part of a captive breeding program.
After that, the fish are to be returned to the river, but few have survived the harvesting process, in which hormone injections are administered and the belly is vigorously massaged and manipulated.
The monster fish was returned dead to the fishermen, who cut it into giant steaks and sold it.
When he tried a bit, Mr. Thirayuth said, it tasted soft and sweet and mild.
“It’s hard to describe,” he said. “You have to try it yourself.”
Unforutnately, I seem unlikely to get the chance. Even more unfortunately, the rest of the world’s fish-eaters seem unlikely to have the chance for much longer.