Diners at a Ho Chi Minh City restaurant will have the dubious honor of eating one of the last Mekong giant catfish before it became extinct. Tuoi Tre News reported yesterday that a 230 kg (507 pound) catfish was caught by Cambodian fisherman, and then bought by a restaurant for an estimated 350 million Vietnamese Dong ($16,466).
Photos: Tuoi Tre News
When humans aren’t messing with them, Mekong giant catfish can grow up to 650 pounds, making them one of the largest fish in the world. They are found in the Mekong River in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam but overfishing, damming, and habitat destruction have decimated their population numbers over the last century. The species is now listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
National Geographic reports that it’s illegal to catch the shark-sized fish in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia; however in Vietnam it is not against the law. Sadly it’s all too often the case that as an animal becomes rarer, eating it becomes even more of a novelty and luxury. That drives prices up, making it even more lucrative for fishermen and restauranteurs to catch and serve it.
This particular river monster is the largest fish the restaurant has ever purchased, reports Tuoi Tre News. In this Vietnamese-language video, it takes around nine men to lift the hulking carcass and carry it into the restaurant.
The video also shows a man, presumably the purchaser, posing for pictures with the giant catfish. It’s an understandable move since it’s very likely the last one of these fish he (or anyone else) will ever see, which must have conservationists feeling like Sad Aquaman right about now:
Photo: Reddit/ jaycrew