Zeb Hogan is looking for big fish - bigger than Lake Tahoe's record 37-pound Mackinaws, bigger than the record size 41-pound Lahontan cutthroat trout caught in northern Nevada's Pyramid Lake. He is looking for megafish: six feet long and 200 pounds, or bigger.
Hogan, a researcher in the Department of Biology, travels the globe to find, study and protect the world's largest freshwater fish and he chronicles his travels on Nat Geo WILD's popular series Monster Fish. The series new season premiers Monday, July 7 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. New episodes will air every Monday for six weeks.
"This year's focus is top-of-the-food-chain predators," Hogan said. "We were on the search for a 400-pound freshwater shark, huge wolf fish, tarpon and electric eels. We found some newly discovered species, as well as very rare and unusual fish - some with weird and dangerous abilities, such as the electric eel capable of producing a 700-volt electric shock, fish with fangs and fish with venomous spines."
This year, Hogan traveled to Thailand, Guyana, Nicaragua, Brazil, Australia and the U.S.A. to find and study the big fish as part of the National Geographic Society Megafishes Project. Six of the big fish being studied are featured in this year's Nat Geo WILD show.
Hogan's show, televised in North America, Asia and Europe, offers a mix of science, adventure, and exploration around the world, with challenges such as expeditions up the Amazon and the remote Rio Roosevelt, a rugged 400-mile-long river in western Brazil that has remained largely unexplored since Theodore Roosevelt first boated down it in 1913.
Hogan, who has a doctoral degree in ecology, has worked with nearly 100 scientists on this project, which spans six continents (North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia) and encompasses several of Earth's most diverse freshwater ecosystems - ecological treasures - including World Heritage Sites, Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance and United Nations Environment Program Biodiversity Hotspots.
Other sites studied include the Amazon River, the Mekong River, the Mississippi River, the Nile, the Lake Baikal watershed in Russia, the Murray-Darling River in Australia, the tributaries of the Danube and the Yangtze River in China.
Hogan also works to establish conservation programs in these areas to protect the threatened fish. Partly as a result of Hogan's work with the governments of Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos, it is now illegal to capture the Mekong giant catfish in those countries.
He has been on faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno since 2006, is an assistant research professor in the University's College of Science and a member of the Aquatic Ecosystems Analysis Laboratory in the Biology Department. He is a National Geographic Explorer and was named a National Geographic Fellow in 2011. He was a visiting Fulbright scholar at the Environmental Risk Assessment Program at Thailand's Chiang Mai University, has served as a World Wildlife Fund senior freshwater fellow and is the United Nations Convention on Migratory Species Councilor for Fish.
Monster Fish is produced by National Geographic Television for Nat Geo WILD. For Nat Geo WILD, executive producer is Ashley Hoppin, senior vice president of production and development is Janet Han Vissering and EVP and general manager is Geoff Daniels.