Environmental Science: New Species of Mekong

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  • Topic: Mekong, Mekong giant catfish, River
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  • Published : May 3, 2013
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Pannasastra University of Cambodia

Commitment to Excellence

Environmental Science (2011-2012)

Phnom Kravanh

Instructor: Dr. Taing You

New Species of Mekong

1. Sun Kimsean

2. Yeang Sokheng

3. Phirun Sopheavy

4. Thanthiva Akkharath

5. Kan Sivorn

6. Eng Savath

7. Vanna Yuk Van Neath

The Mekong River is a major river in Southeastern Asia and is one of the world’s greatest rivers, ranked number 10th largest river by length in the world. The basin of the Mekong River drains a total land area of 795,000 km2 from the eastern watershed of the Tibetan Plateau to the Mekong Delta. The Mekong River flows approximately 4,909 km through three provinces of China, continuing into Myanmar, Lao PDR, Thailand, Cambodia and Viet Nam before emptying into the South China Sea.

The Mekong River has many different kinds of names in many places. For example: Dza-chu (Tibet), Lancang Jiang (Jiang as river in China), Thailand and Laos as Mae Nam Khong (Mae Nam as river).

The Mekong River Basin is divided into 2 parts: Upper Mekong Basin and Lower Mekong Basin. The Tibetan Plateau, Three Rivers Area (Mekong, Salween, and Yangtze) and Lancang Basin form the Upper Mekong Basin, which composed of China and Myanmar. The Northern Highlands, Khorat Plateau, Tonle Sap Basin and Mekong Delta make up the Lower Mekong Basin, which composed of Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia and Vietnam.

The Mekong River holds more than 1,500 species of fish, including the Mekong giant catfish—the largest freshwater fish in the world—and the endangered Irrawaddy Mekong dolphins. Besides tigers and elephants, the Mekong’s forests sustain an extraordinary range of plants and birds, and extremely rare species such as douc langur and the saola.

At half the length of a bus and weighing up to 600kgs, the Mekong River’s giant freshwater stingray (Dasyatis laosensis) is the world’s largest freshwater fish. The critically endangered and culturally fabled Mekong giant catfish (Pangasianodon gigas) ranks third at up to 3 metres in length and 350kgs.

The Mekong River is home to more giant fish than any other river on Earth. Populations of the Mekong giant catfish have fallen 90 per cent in just two decades. It is also a home for the endangered dolphins called Irrawaddy Dolphins.

Dog-eating catfish

The scientific name is Pangasius sanitwongsei also known as: Paroon shark or ChaoPhraya giant catfish It is known to enjoy feasting on the carcasses of large animals, the remains of dead fowl and dogs have been used as bait to ensnare the Dog-eating catfish. At an impressive 660 pounds (300kg), the dog-eating catfish is almost the same size as the largest recorded bull shark.

The Global Top 10 Giant Freshwater Fish
1. Giant freshwater stingray (Himantura chaophraya) 600kg (500cm, 240cm disc width) Mekong River Basin 2. Chinese paddlefish (Psephurus gladius) 500kg (700cm) Yangtze River Basin 3. Mekong giant catfish (Pangasianodon gigas) 350kg (300cm) Mekong River Basin 4. Wels catfish (Silurus glanis) 306kg (500cm) Widespread in Europe and Asia 5. Giant pangasius (dog-eating catfish) (Pangasius sanitwongsei) 300kg (300cm) Mekong River Basin 6. Giant barb (Catlocarpio siamensis) 300kg (300cm) Mekong River Basin 7. Arapaima (pirarucu; paiche) (Arapaima gigas) 200kg (450cm) Amazon River Basin 8. Piraíba (laulau; lechero) (Brachyplatystoma filamentosum) 200kg (360cm) Amazon River Basin 9. Nile perch (Lates niloticus) 200kg (200cm) Nile River Basin 10. Alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula) 137kg (305cm) Mississippi River Basin The area surrounding the Mekong River is home to nearly 30,000 known species of plants, mammals, reptiles, and fish; including elephants, tigers, and the giant Mekong catfish. Over 1,000 previously unknown...
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