'Hero' rescues aquarium fish after earthquake

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An aquarium worker in Christchurch, New Zealand has been dubbed a hero after this month's earthquake, when he rescued a number of fish.

Just twenty minutes after the 7.1 earthquake finished Dave Bradshaw, the Operations Manager at the Southern Encounter Aquarium and Kiwi House, left his house - where his chimney had just fallen through the roof - and returned to the aquarium to check on the fish.

Bradshaw arrived to find total darkness and "tidal waves" in the 85,000 l. and 21,000 l. tanks. About a third of the water, and many of the fish, had spilled on to the floor, so he worked frantically to return the fish to their tanks.

Over 15,000 l. of water had to be mopped up, however all but a few of the fish survived. Amongst the dead were a Sea perch, a grouper and several Yellow-eyed mullet.

Amongst the fish at the aquarium which survived the quake are porcupinefish, Southern pigfish (like the one pictured above), butterfish, wrasse, Crested bellowsfish, flounder, carpet sharks and short-tailed stingrays.

Orana Wildlife Trust Chief Executive Lynne Anderson, who oversees the aquarium, is quoted saying: "If it wasn't for the heroic actions of Dave Bradshaw we wouldn't have had much to re-open with."

Bradshaw said he arrived so quickly because he was worried that the quake could have caused a water pipe to burst, resulting in all the water from the tanks dropping into the basement. Fortunately, the pipes were sound and Bradshaw was in time to rescue the stranded fish.

But why was his first thought not his stricken house? "It's my job," he said.