Chasing Giants book launch

Officially released April 25th, I was privileged to attend a pre-launch book event for Chasing Giants: In Search of the World’s Largest Freshwater Fish by Zeb Hogan (University of Nevada – Reno and host of National Geographic’s Monster Fish) and Stefan Lovgren (award-winning journalist and filmmaker).  The event was hosted by the Stimson Center on April 12th and included a panel discussion with the authors, Mary Melnyk (USAID), and Michele Thieme (WWF), moderated by Brian Eyler (Stimson Center).  

The book’s journey began with a simple question to identify the world’s largest freshwater fish, but became so much more.  “This is not only about big fish,” Hogan said, “but the people around the world who depend on them.”

That this simple question was – and (spoiler alert) still is – so difficult to answer is likely because “freshwater systems are understudied and underfunded,” Lovgren said, “which doesn’t make any sense with so much dependent on them.”

“Why are we not paying more attention?” Thieme asked.  Freshwater biodiversity declines are substantially higher than terrestrial and marine and, in fact, dragging down the whole curve.

Hogan and the other panelists all emphasized that there is still hope for bending the curve of freshwater biodiversity loss.

But, if you don’t know something exists, how can you value it?  “If you look,” as Hogan has “it’s amazing what you will find.” But for various reasons from murky water to remote locations, fresh waters aren’t featured as frequently in media as other biodiversity rich ecosystems in decline.  Addressing this is one of the goals of Chasing Giants as well as Zeb’s other work, including the Wonders of the Mekong Project where broader communication efforts and storytelling are as integral to the project as the scientific research.

“Yes; there are lots of big challenges but it is not too late,” Hogan emphasized.  “Big fish are often the most vulnerable.  If you can keep them in the river, most other benefits from the systems are maintained as well.”

Take a look at the publicly available event recording (available courtesy of the Stimson Center) for a sneak peak on the contents of Chasing Giants and how it relates to contemporary global biodiversity policy conversations.

Hogan signing books for audience members following the panel discussion at the Stimson Center on April 12, 2023.

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