More than 70 giant freshwater stingrays have been found dead in Thailand’s Mae Klong River over the past few weeks because of suspected pollution – some of them measuring in as big as cars.

One sting ray found recently alive in the Mae Klong River was a massive 7.9 feet across and 14 foot long and weighed an estimated 800 pounds.

The giant sting ray is the world’s largest freshwater fish, and is found in South East Asia and Australia. They are listed as an endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and scientists are hoping to find out more about the animal to better understand exactly how many are left and more about their biology.

Also known as the whip-ray, it’s unknown for certain why the giant fish have been dying off at such an alarming rate, though the acidic nature of the river and a recent spill from an ethanol plant are suspected of having poisoned the rays.

Photograph: Ocean mysteries with Jeff Corwin / litton entertainment

Another theory is that the sting rays may have been actively poisoned with cyanide intended to kill other fish.

Oh, humans.

Since freshwater fish aren’t particularly tasty, they aren’t subject to fishing and are strong enough that they can normally break out of whatever fishing utensil was used to catch them if things do come to that.

Even though the rays aren’t hunted though, they are occasionally entangled and die as a bycatch of other fishing. Their main dangers are all man-made; oil spills, pollution and dams which change and disrupt their habitat.

Close-up of stingray fish underwater

Close-up of stingray fish underwater

Zeb Hogan, a National Geographic explorer, said: “One thing is clear: a reduction of pollution from surrounding factories is needed to improve the health of the river and save stingrays in the long term.

“I am hoping that international coverage will encourage more measures to protect this incredible fish."

This is only the latest news in a week that has not been good for the climate, what with Donald Trump getting elected and threatening to withdraw from the Paris Treaty and scientists warning that climate change may be accelerating even faster than we thought.

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