Perspective | Giant Catch in the Mekong Reveals Mysteries of Biodiversity Hot Spot

The Mekong River, the longest waterway in Southeast Asia, is often called the world’s most productive river because it holds a greater abundance of freshwater fish than any other river basin on the planet.

From an ecological standpoint, there is one stretch of the river, in northern Cambodia — roughly 100 miles from the border with Laos and going downstream to the town of Kratie — that is particularly fertile. According to some estimates, an astounding 200 billion fish a year have been spawned in this area. Deep pools reaching down 260 feet serve as refuges for some of the world’s largest and most endangered freshwater fish species.

Despite its importance, little is known about this ecosystem and the biodiversity that exists here. The research project with which I’m involved is trying to change that. Called the Wonders of the Mekong, the project is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

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Stefan Lovgren, special to Circle of Blue