Two goldfish have become the smallest and hardiest survivors of the devastating
February earthquake in Christchurch that killed 181 people.
The fish, named Shaggy and Daphne after characters from the animated television show Scooby Doo, spent four and a half months - 134 days - trapped in their tank in the city's off-limits
downtown without anyone to feed them or even any electricity to power their tank filter
before they were discovered this month and rescued.
Luckily for the fish, they lived in a large 26-gallon tank and may have gleaned
some nutrition from eating algae
growing on the tank's rocks and walls.
"It's certainly an incredible story. I wouldn't have guessed that fish could survive on their own for four months," said Paul Clarkson, curator
at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
in California. "Goldfish are very hardy critters
." He said naturally growing bacteria may have helped keep the water clean enough to sustain life.
Then there's the delicate
question of their missing companions. There were six goldfish in the tank when the earthquake struck. By the time the survivors were found, no trace remained of three of the fish. A fourth was found floating in the tank. Goldfish are, after all, omnivores
The fish had been on display in the reception area of Quantum Chartered Accountants in Christchurch's High Street. Company director Vicky Thornley said she was about to step into the elevator when the quake hit and she grabbed onto the wooden tank surround, both to steady herself and stop the tank from falling.
"I was clinging on for dear life," she said. Some of the water slopped
She and her three co-workers made it out of the building as masonry
and bricks crashed through a skylight
It wasn't until July 6 that authorities finally allowed her back into the office, escorting
her for an hour to collect belongings.
Ms Thornley said she didn't want to look in the direction of the tank because she was sure the fish would be long dead. But then an earthquake-recovery worker shouted to her: "Hey, there are fish here, and they're alive!"
"I was astounded," she said.
The fish looked dull in colour but otherwise appeared fine. She scooped
them out and took them home in a bucket. They are now being looked after by her son.