Villagers Spend 6 Hours Saving Giant Catfish Who Was Stranded

He weighed 440 pounds and was trapped 2 miles from his home 😱

Villagers from the province of Phatthalung, in southern Thailand, are used to seeing giant catfish splashing in their waters — but when they spotted one stranded in a local pond, they knew he needed help.

The fish turned out to be a 26-year-old Mekong giant catfish whom locals know and lovingly call the “swamp king.” He was stuck in the tiny pond after recent heavy rains had flooded the area, and had nowhere else to swim.  

mekong giant catfish thailand rescue

Wielding a huge net to wrangle the 440-pound fish, dozens of villagers rushed into the water to secure him so they could hoist him onto the trailer of a motorbike nearby. A crowd of onlookers captured the supersized rescue on video as it unfolded.

Driving more than 2 miles with the fish in tow, the rescuers made sure to pour water across the fish’s body to ensure he survived out of water during the journey.

mekong giant catfish rescue thailand

After six hours of pulling, hoisting and driving, the rescuers finally made it to a deep body of water to release their local celebrity back to safety. After being freed from the net, the giant fish swam away happily.

mekong giant catfish rescue thailand

Mekong giant catfish are native to the Mekong River system of Southeast Asia and are known for their impressive size; they can live more than 60 years and weigh upwards of 500 pounds. The largest recorded individual, who was caught in Thailand in 2005, was 9 feet long and weighed 646 pounds, and holds the record for the largest recorded freshwater fish in the world.

The record-breaking Mekong giant catfish that a fisherman unknowingly caught in 2005 | Suthep Kritsanavarin/World Wildlife Fund

While they historically had cultural importance for local peoples, the species is now critically endangered and has lost 80 percent of its population in the past two decades. There are likely only a few hundred left.

Now, people have turned that reverence into conservation efforts and rescues of the swamp giants, as populations continue to decline and their food sources become threatened by habitat destruction. It’s currently illegal to intentionally catch them.

"There's a respect for large fish," Zeb Hogan, a big fish biologist, told National Geographic. "It didn't surprise me that this video was in Thailand and the people did this."

Watch the full video of the rescue below: