One of Earth’s largest mass migrations along the Tonle Sap River

This drawing shows largest mass migration of fish along the Tonle Sap River. Illustration: Chhut Chheana
  • Chhut Chheana /USAID Wonders of the Mekong
  • August 8, 2020 11:16 AM

Hundreds of fish species and millions of tons of fish stream out of the Tonle Sap Lake, making the Tonle Sap River the site of one of the largest animal migrations and inland fisheries on Earth.

Fish are a very important source of food for people, but it is also important to protect species that are endangered, like the Giant Barb. It is important that we should think about this all together. If we harvest too many endangered species now, there will be none left for other people to enjoy in the future.

Around October along the Tonle Sap River, hundreds of fish species and millions of tons of fish have left the Tonle Sap Lake, led by the “King of the Fish,” the giant barb. At the same time, tens of thousands of fishermen with all kinds of fishing gear also carry out fishing.

These are the annual migratory patterns of fish, which are considered one of the largest mass migration events on Earth. If we take a boat ride along the Tonle Sap River, which is about 120 kilometers from the Tonle Sap Lake to the confluence of four rivers (the upper Mekong, the Lower Mekong, the Tonle Sap and the Bassac rivers "Chaktomuk rivers") in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, we will see a large number of fishermen and people gathering together carry out fishing and process fisheries products (to be continued).


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