Learn about the importance and complexity of the world’s river ecosystems through the exploration of rare, enormous freshwater fish.
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (September 27, 2022) – Dive beneath the surface of rivers around the world in the National Geographic exhibition “Monster Fish: In Search of the Last River Giants,” opening October 8, 2022 at the Witte Museum. Enormous in size and rapidly dwindling in number, these ancient fish play critical roles in their freshwater habitats. Dr. Zeb Hogan, aquatic ecologist, National Geographic Fellow and host of the Nat Geo WILD series “Monster Fish,” has spent nearly two decades searching for and studying the rare, large freshwater fish species profiled in the exhibition. The interactive exhibition will include five extraordinary, life-size sculptures of monster fish, showcase species found in Texas and the San Antonio River and provide hands-on experiences for visitors of all ages.
“We love sharing the wondrous San Antonio River with families, students and individuals on a daily basis at the Witte, with a riparian habitat leading to water teeming with fish, turtles and migratory birds. It’s no wonder we chose National Geographic’s ‘Monster Fish’ for the next Witte exhibition,” said Marise McDermott, President and CEO of the Witte Museum. “The enormous creatures from around the world are glorious to behold and barely fit through the Witte doors. Just as impressive are the added displays of the largest fish to inhabit Texas rivers, from catfish to the ancient alligator gar, from the enormous paddlefish to a monster largemouth bass specimen. Come join us for fish around the world and from our own Texas Rivers.”
“Monster Fish,” presented by the Will Smith Foundation, will remain open at the museum through January 22, 2023.
Enormous freshwater fish and the people who depend on them
“Monster Fish” takes visitors on a journey to river basins around the world to learn about colossal fish and the people who depend on them. The exhibition showcases more than 20 fish species and their diverse freshwater ecosystems through detailed maps, sculptures and custom illustrations. In addition to highlighting the biology of each species, it depicts the cultural ties between the fish and local people. From mythical tales and storied traditions to threats and conservation efforts, visitors will leave with a greater understanding of the important role of Monster Fish in both culture and ecosystems.
The legendary fish of Texas
Gigantic fish are found in Texas, and a special section of the exhibition, curated by Witte Museum experts, highlights the Texas monster fish. See fossil fragments of the ancient gar, whose ancestors have been swimming in the region’s rivers for more than 215 million years, and the enormous Xiphactinus, known as the “terror fish of the Cretaceous seas.” Models of Texas Record Fish will be on display from the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, including alligator gar, paddlefish, largemouth bass (known as ShareLunkers) and the 121.5-pound blue catfish “Splash,” the former world and current state record blue catfish.
The Witte has also partnered with the San Antonio River Authority to showcase native species found in the San Antonio River, including the extensive variety of freshwater mussels, and invasive animals, such as Plecostomus and apple snail, which threaten the river.
Interactive elements to engage all ages
In addition to life-size models and live fish (not of the monster variety) in aquariums, “Monster Fish” features several interactive elements and games designed to provide visitors with opportunities to learn about how monster fish grow, how scientists study them and how anglers and others can help these fish survive. In “Monster Size Me,” users maneuver a marble through a circular obstacle course, avoiding threats like invasive species and dams and seeking ways to grow areas like protected habitats. The “Go Fish” game invites people to use magnetic fishing poles to catch fish and then place them into a chute for release back into the river. A model boat serves as a theater, which guests can climb aboard to view five video shorts featuring Hogan talking about worldwide adventures searching for these monster fish.
Admission Tickets & Memberships
Admission tickets can be reserved online at www.WitteMuseum.org/MonsterFish. The museum’s new “Family Plus Membership” gives members unlimited, free access to exhibitions requiring a special ticket, including National Geographic’s “Monster Fish: In Search of the Last River Giants.” Memberships can be purchased at www.WitteMuseum.org/Memberships.