One of the world’s most threatened fish species, for which scientists have been searching for decades, has been unexpectedly rediscovered in northern Cambodia. No adult giant salmon carp had been officially recorded since 2004, but earlier this year a 13-pound specimen was reported from a local wet market along the Mekong River, the only river system on Earth where the species lives.
“The discovery of yet another amazing, but highly endangered animal, in an area that supports the livelihoods and food security of millions of people, shows plain as day the urgent need for conservation programs and the potential benefits of government, scientists and local communities coming together to safeguard the wonders of the Mekong,” Zeb Hogan University of Nevada, Reno fish biologist and research professor who has studied Mekong fish species for decades and who leads the USAID-funded Wonders of the Mekong research project, said.
So rare is the giant salmon carp (Aaptosyax grypus) it does not have a Khmer name, and it has been referred to as a “Mekong Ghost.” Believed to grow as large as 66 pounds, it is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Although the fish was not found alive – with the cause of death unknown – its discovery has raised hope that the species still prevails in the Mekong.