A fisherman hauls a giant pirarucu fish from a river in the Amazon.


What an Ugly (But Delicious!) 450-Pound Fish Tells Us about Sustainable Development in the Amazon

By Brian Winter, Beto Veríssimo, Juliano J. Assunção, Cecilia Tornaghi

The pirarucu could be a global sensation, but challenges stand in the way, write Americas Quarterly's editor-in-chief, managing editor, et al.

This article is part of AQ’s special report on sustainable development of the Amazon. | Ler em português.

The first thing people tend to notice about the pirarucu, a fish native to the Amazon, is that it’s absolutely, utterly horrifying. Adults in the wild can grow to a whopping 450 pounds (200 kg) and nine feet in length, which combined with its scowling face makes it look like a kind of Amazonian Loch Ness monster as it ploughs through the freshwater rivers of the world’s largest rainforest, surfacing every 10 minutes or so to gasp for oxygen. (In another novelty, it is among the roughly 1 percent of fish species that breathe air.)

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