Guideline River Monsters Season 2 Episode 2 : Death Ray

Jeremy Wade heads to the Mekong River in Thailand in search of one of the world's largest, most terrifying river fish: the giant freshwater stingray. Armed with a venomous, 10-inch barbed tail, this 700-pound monster tests Jeremy to his physical limit.

Himantura chaophraya

Maximum Length: Up to 16.5 feet
Maximum Width: Up to 6½ feet
Maximum Weight: Up to 1,200 pounds

A Saucer-Shaped Giant: Shaped like a flying saucer, the giant freshwater stingray is said to be over 16 feet long and over 6 feet wide. Some sources put its weight at well over a thousand pounds. If these measurements are true, it would make the giant stingray the world's largest freshwater fish. First described by science a mere 20 years ago, this freshwater monster inhabits the dark, muddy river bottoms of Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia (it's unclear whether it ever ventures into the ocean).

Wish You Were Dead: In the Amazon, freshwater stingrays are called "wish-you-were-dead-fish" because of their agonizingly painful stings. But Amazon stingrays are relatively small compared to this Southeast Asian giant. When a stingray strikes, its barb creates a very deep puncture wound, usually to the foot or lower leg but sometimes higher up. As well as the immediate wound, the stingray injects extraordinarily painful venom into the flesh; this create the very long-lasting effect of tissue necrosis.

Barb of Death: The stingray's stinger, or barb, sits on top of its tail. In giant freshwater stingrays, the barb can measure up to 8 inches from base to tip. The fish can whip it over its back, a bit like a scorpion, or whip it around to either side. It has a wickedly sharp point and grooves running underneath that deliver venom from a gland at the base of the tale. These grooves also make it a more efficient stabbing weapon, much like a bayonet or combat knife. In addition, the barb has serrations along the edge; the barb may go in cleanly, but it makes a mess when pulled out, ripping flesh and spreading poison as it's withdrawn.

Jeremy Wade's Tips for Catching Giant Freshwater Stingray: "The main challenge with the giant freshwater stingray is its immense size, coupled with its flat shape, which sticks to the bottom like a huge sucker. So when you hook into one, it's like trying to pull the plug out of the river. This dictates the use of very strong gear.

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