When you’re putting together the pet industry’s first ever aquatic super-show, naturally your keynote speaker should be the biggest fish out there. Aquatic Experience-Chicago will feature a spectacular floor show highlighting all things freshwater and saltwater, open to beginning hobbyists, educated aquarium keepers, livestock and equipment experts and manufacturers introducing the latest aquatic trends. But the highlight of the three-day event may well be the chance to hear Dr. Zeb Hogan, host of National Geographic Wild’s “Monster Fish” share his experiences of tracking down some of the biggest fish in the world.
Hogan’s show has aired four seasons, and looks forward to beginning filming another season of encounters with gigantic freshwater fish around the globe to share with National Geographic viewers. Hogan is more than a TV personality – the aquatic conservation biologist has dedicated his life to uncovering and understanding potential threats to endangered freshwater fish and their habitats.
Hogan has studied fish on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, and as a Fulbright Scholar studied in the Golden Triangle, where Myanmar, Laos and Thailand come together; and where he met the first of what would become a long line of big fish – the Mekong Catfish. “The Mekong has more large fish species than any other river….that encounter stimulated my interest in large fish. It’s quite an experience meeting a 600lb fish,” Hogan admits.
Hogan earned his PhD in Ecology in Fish and Wildlife from UC Davis in 2004, and in 2007 received funding from the National Geographic Society for a 3-year “Mega Fishes” project, in which he set out to document and protect over 20 of the largest fresh-water fish species in the world. Overfishing and habitat degradation challenge the survival of these species, which can weigh in at over 200 lbs and measure 6 feet long. In 2011, Hogan was named a National Geographic Fellow, and continues his work today backed by the National Geographic Society.
A champion of the biggest fresh-water fish out there, Hogan goes where few researchers have been. In many parts of the world, science and conservation are not priorities. Hogan says, “There just aren’t that many people doing this kind of work.” He adds, “My principal goal is to investigate causes behind the global loss of freshwater biodiversity.” Hogan will share his experiences of traveling the world in search of rare aquatic species such as the giant freshwater stingray and the Hucho Taimen, the world’s largest salmon.
In addition to his keynote presentation, Hogan will present two additional talks at Aquatic Experience-Chicago for those attendees with a fascination for fish. “I’m always challenged by a novel question or problem and almost every day I learn something new,” Hogan shares. “It is incredible to work in beautiful and remote places and realize that such places still exist.” This will be a rare opportunity to hear first-hand about Hogan’s research, discoveries and what the future holds for some of the world’s most incredible aquatic creatures.