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article imageSmokey the goldfish survives 2 years without food or daylight

By Mathew Wace Peck     Sep 23, 2013 in Odd News
Harwich - A British goldfish that survived for two years in a garden pond without obvious food or oxygen has been reunited with its owners.
The fish was, until now, an unknown survivor of a fire that destroyed his owners’ home in 2011.
The fire, which started in the roof of a house in a row of five, quickly spread to destroy the whole 17th-century terrace of buildings in West Street, Harwich, Essex, England.
Smokey, as the fish is now known, was rescued by contractors who were at the property to fill in the pond where he had been living.
There was only about an inch of water in the pond, which had been completely covered by debris, shutting out all light and, hence, oxygen from it.
The Daily Mail reports that Smokey has now been returned to his original owners, Jackie and Billy Broadley, who lived at the house prior to the fire.
Originally, the Broadleys’ pond was stocked with Koi carp with a combined value of in excess of £3,000. Following the blaze, however, it was thought that all the fish had been rescued.
“We thought we had caught all the fish from the pond,” Jackie told the Daily Mail, “so I was amazed when we were told what had happened.”
The Broadleys told the paper that since the fire, life for them had been somewhat traumatic, but that Smokey’s return had lifted their spirits.
“It’s really nice to have Smokey [back],” Jackie confirmed; while Billy said, “It was a real surprise to hear that the goldfish had survived.”
The properties, which are owned by Tendring District Council, have now been renovated. A council representative told the BBC that when found, Smokey appeared to have suffered no ill effects from his ordeal.
How Smokey survived without any obvious food or aeration of the water has left his owners perplexed. Katya Mira, of the RSPCA, confirmed, “Fish require oxygen in the water to breathe so it’s quite a surprise that Smokey has survived so long in a covered-over pond with no obvious source of aeration.”
The RSPCA officer added that Smokey was lucky to have survived in such circumstances, as “the build-up of waste products and carbon dioxide in a covered-over pond would eventually kill a fish”.
Asked about it, a University of East Anglia biologist, Professor Matthew Gage, said, “Fish, especially cold-water species like goldfish, are able to shut down physiological processes to a minimum and go into hibernation when they need no food. They keep themselves on trickle-charge by living off internal fat and protein reserves laid down during times of plenty.”
The professor added that it was quite likely that Smokey survived because of the lack of light, “by shading the pond and keeping it cool”.
“The other possibility,” he proffered, “is [that] Smokey was simply surviving by eating invertebrates that naturally colonise any garden pond such as worms, insects, and small snails.”
The five houses suffered extensively in the blaze nearly two years ago. At the time, speaking to BBC News, Chris Noakes, the assistant divisional fire officer of Essex Fire and Rescue Service, confirmed that the all properties were so badly damaged that “there is no way that the people living there will be able to return to their homes, upsetting at any time of the year but particularly devastating just before Christmas”.
Smokey follows in the “footsteps” of two snakes, who were rescued, unscathed, by the firefighters, from one of the other houses and returned to their owner.
More about Smokey, Goldfish, Jackie Broadley, Billy Broadley, Tendring District Council
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