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In Search of the World’s Megafishes

Zeb Hogan is in hot pursuit of the world’s largest freshwater fish.

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Atlantic goliath groupers (Epinephelus itajara), up to 800 pounds and nine feet long, announce their presence off southwest Florida by squeezing their swim bladders: “Whump. Whump!”
This story appears in the October/November 2016 issue of Nat Geo WILD magazine.

Zeb Hogan, biologist, explorer, and photographer, is on a mission to document and protect the world’s freshwater fish. Hogan knows that unprecedented usage of freshwater around the world has led to declining populations of many aquatic species. He and the MegaFishes Project plan to help.

The world’s largest freshwater fish, many weighing more than 200 pounds, face the biggest threat. Working with a network of more than 100 scientists, fishermen, and local populations in 17 countries, Hogan examines the causes of (and potential solutions to) the global loss of freshwater biodiversity. They hope their work will lead to another first: identifying the planet’s largest freshwater fish.

As the star of Nat Geo WILD’s Monster Fish, Hogan guides viewers on a global quest for these aquatic behemoths. “Freshwater biodiversity conservation—including animals like the Mekong catfish, river dolphins, and otters—is every bit as important as the protection of animals like tigers and whales—perhaps more so,” he says. “I’ve always thought fish were fascinating—they’re beautiful, grow in every shape and size, occupy nearly all aquatic habitats on Earth.”

Hogan knows that science is not the only tool, that education and local outreach are just as important. “I also use photography to get people interested and excited about river conservation. A picture of a 10-foot-long fish takes your breath away.”

Learn more and get involved with Zeb Hogan and the MegaFishes Project.