Winner of the longest freshwater migration: The dorado catfish
February 8, 2017
The race for life can be long and arduous. The dorado catfish (Brachyplatystoma rousseauxii) knows this all too well. Scientists recently revealed that the elegantly moustachioed fish holds the record for the longest, exclusively freshwater, migration. It travels approximately 11,600 kms (over 7,200 miles) during its life-cycle. That's as if you walked and swam your way from London to Jakarta, Indonesia, all to give birth to a squalling little youngling. Yeah. I wouldn't either.
Swimming over 7,200 miles during its life-cycle, the dorado catfish is one of the most committed catfish out there. Photo by Michael Goulding/WCS.
The dorado's journey begins with adults traveling up the Amazon river to spawn near the Andes. All this may sound simple in human words, but the trip can take the fish anywhere between one and two years. Those who go upriver never go back down, but the youngsters do and head downriver to finish the cycle.
As with so many of nature's wonders, we, humanity, looms as a threat to the dorado and its catfish brethren (who all go by the name 'goliath', by the way). The scientists warn that extensive disturbance -- in the form of dams, mining and deforestation -- could disrupt this epic voyage, particularly as a lot of infrastructure is planned near the Amazon's headwaters, the spawning area for the fish.