Imagine the surprise of Table Mountain National Park management when they were informed on 30th October 2005 that a 2m deep weir on the cable car road, was full of fat goldfish; the kind that most people keep in a bowl and are who most certainly not native to the mountain streams and dams of Table Mountain.
Bewildered officials said they had no idea how the aquatic aliens made the leap from fish tank to mountain stream, but thought it must have happened quite recently. They didn’t think the goldfish would survive long in the cold water or have enough to eat. But they were in for a shock. Reports started coming in from locals that the fish had been there for years. One mountain walker said had been skinny dipping in that very pool with the goldfish since the 1980s.
This fishy tale caught the attention of the local press and a couple of people revealed that they had put goldfish in the stream over the past few years. One woman said she had taken some of her goldfish to this pool years ago when moving house. And added, if she had known how well they had flourished, she would have come back for them. The woman chose to remain anonymous, probably because she anticipated the condemnation that came in a statement from National Parks, “We strongly condemn the releasing of alien species into a sensitive ecosystem.”
The National Park decided that even though there had been no recorded case of serious invasion by goldfish in South Africa, they were an invasive species and had to be moved. Cape Times reported, ‘Goldfish invaders to be sent packing.’ Armed with a larger version of the kind of nets with which you usually catch tropical fish, the first efforts were thwarted when the fish turned shy. There was no nonsense the next day, when a heavy duty water tanker drained most of the water out of the pool. Yet it still took the better part of an afternoon to collect between 60 and 70 large goldfish vigorously resisting capture.
There is a happy ending to this story. The fish were transferred to a contained pond near Rhodes Memorial, still on the slopes of Table Mountain, aptly named Mount Pleasant, where they can swim out the rest of their days in bliss.