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Tall tale of giant stingray circles the globe
Date:3/11/2009

RENO, Nev. If you couldn't believe your eyes when you saw the recent photo of a purported record-breaking 771-pound stingray, you may have been on to something.

"While the photo is genuine and there's no denying that this is a huge stingray, the stingray in the photo was never weighed," University of Nevada, Reno conservation biologist Zeb Hogan said. He is lead researcher for the "Megafishes Project," a joint venture with the National Geographic Society which aims to find, study, and protect the world's largest freshwater fish.

News of the catch spread quickly. However, contrary to initial media reports, it is unknown if this fish, which was tagged and released in central Thailand on January 28, 2009 as part of the National Geographic expedition, is truly the world's largest freshwater fish, he said. The fish, caught by volunteer angler Ian Welch from a small boat using a rod and reel, will be featured in an upcoming documentary airing on the National Geographic Channel.

"Surprisingly, we caught the stingray again four weeks later on Feb. 28," Hogan said. "It's still hasn't been weighed so it still isn't known if it's a record breaker. We estimated the weight based on previous catches and simple 'back-of-the-envelope' calculations."

Hogan, along with his team of researchers and anglers on site at the time of capture, approximate the fish's weight to be between 550-770 pounds. An even slightly larger fish than the one tagged would almost certainly be a world record freshwater fish, he said.

"In terms of disk width, this is the second largest stingray I've seen, the largest was in Cambodia in 2003," Hogan said. "This recent fish was very thick, so it may have weighed more."

The big winged fish was caught the second time about four kilometers from the original site by local anglers who work with his team. Researchers immediately released it. The find could mean that the ray population is smaller, or les
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Contact: Mike Wolterbeek
awolterbeek@unr.edu
University of Nevada, Reno
Source:Eurekalert  

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