Monday, July 06, 2009

Nat Geo: monster fish in Amazon, Congo, Mekong

Tonight, Monday July 6, National Geographic Channel aired three one-hour “monster fish” episodes, about, respectively, the Amazon, the Congo River, and Thailand.

In the Amazon (“Hooked”), the interest was a 400 pound catfish, and the pirarucu, one of the largest freshwater fishes in the world which, while slothful, is an efficient predator. The piranha feasted on much of their bait, although did not quite live up to their reputation. When wading in upper reaches, researches had to be wary of other bizarre creatures such as an electric eel. A typical link for this series is here.

The second hour (“Explorer”), on the Congo River, focused on tiger fish, but also presented the deepest freshwater river canyon in the world, over 700 feet deep, with blindfish living at the bottom. The electric catfish was presented.

In Thailand (“Hooked”), researchers went after (and tagged surgically) the largest “pancake-like” sting ray in the world in the Mekong River, after practicing tagging carcasses found in a Thai fish market. The biology of sting rays, which often bear the young live, was presented.
The rays eat shrimp that are almost a foot long. The film showed how the sting ray defends itself with its barb and how it inflicts serious injury.

Attribution link for NASA satellite picture of Amazon.

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