Words by Tess Becker
The second longest river in the world, the Amazon River, is known for a lot of things – specifically its biodiversity with animals like the giant otter, river dolphin, caimans, and piranhas.
But some of the most interesting are the massive river monsters of the Amazon River: fish that can be as tall as basketball hoops and as heavy as a large ape. These massive creatures, like the pirarucu, were facing external pressure feeling the effects of environmental degradation.
But the massive fish throughout the Amazon are making a comeback.
What’s the good news?
Well, speaking of the pirarucu, they were particularly vulnerable to poachers. The massive fish, like the saltwater tarpon, is an air-breathing fish meaning that they have to surface regularly to breathe. As a result, they were easy to spot and hunt by poachers meaning that they all but disappeared in parts of the Amazon River.
Thankfully, concerted efforts including sustainable fishing programs and much stricter quotas have seen the pirarucu return to areas it was missing.
There isn’t strict observance all over the river though, so in areas outside of nature reserves where there isn’t nearly as much law enforcement local villagers have taken it into their own hands to discourage poachers and people fishing illegally.
Many of the larger fish are tagged so the people buying them can know if the fish was caught legally or not as well.