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Friday, December 04, 2009

LINDSAY SELBY: Breeding giant fish in Thailand

Many fish from other tropical countries thrive in Thai lakes, and in recent years the country has become a breeding centre for exotic species. Lake Monster's owner, Ittiporn Parnitpechedpong, says he began stocking it two years ago so his friends could fish for fun. But what started as a hobby has grown into an increasingly lucrative business.

"People want to come and fish for these big fish, especially because many of these exotic species are new for Asia," Parnitpechedpong said. Lake Monster is now a haven for the Mekong giant catfish, a southeast Asian beast that has seen its wild population drop by about 95 per cent over the past century. At 9 feet (2.7 metres) long and 646 pounds (293 kilograms), a Mekong giant catfish currently holds the record for the largest freshwater fish ever caught (see photos).

Lake Monster also hosts alligator gar, which can grow as long as 10 feet (3 metres) and weigh 300 pounds (135 kilograms). These North American giants are not listed as endangered, but habitat loss and overfishing have taken a toll on the species' preferred spawning habitats, contributing to significant population declines. Conservationists are also concerned about another giant inhabitant of Lake Monster, the arapaima, which is becoming increasingly rare in its native Amazonian habitat.

Arapaima can grow more than 10 feet (3 metres) long and 400 pounds (180 kilograms). As an air breather, the species is vulnerable to hunters with harpoons when it surfaces for air every 10 to 20 minutes.

Source with pics and more info:


Retrieverman said...

I saw this as part of a documentary about giant fish.

Believe it or not, some of the most popular wildlife shows in the US right now are about giant fish.

Alligator gar are massive animals. Their skulls even look like those of an alligator (or some bizarre crocodilian): http://www.mdwfp.com/ImageUploads%5CFW227%5Cgator%20gar%20web%202.JPG

We've got the much smaller gar called the longnose gar.

These look like an unholy union between a gharial and a pike: http://www.tnfish.org/PhotoGalleryFish_TWRA/FishPhotoGallery_TWRA/pages/LongnoseGarTeethNorrisNegus_jpg.htm

The longnose species is the first one European came across. Gar, garfish, or garpike is the archaic name for the freshwater needlefish of Asia. It looks a lot like a longnose gar: http://www.aquaticcommunity.com/predatory/needlefish.php

Gar is an archaic English word that means spear. I suppose it is related to the Old Norse and Icelandic word for the Great Auk, which is geirfugl ("spear bird"). In English, this term has been garefowl (which means roughly the same thing).

shiva said...

Wow, if those are found in the US, then i think we have an ID for many US "lake monsters", as well as out-of-place "alligators".

The etymology's interesting too - was the great auk called a "spear-bird" because it was hunted with spears, or because there was something "spear-like" about it (its bill, perhaps)? If the latter, you would think that the name would have been more logically applied to a stork or heron, or maybe even something like a gannet...

Also, could "gar" be related, via some Indo-European root, to "gharial"?