A single orange goldfish can be seen underneath a frozen pond.
Photo by Venus Edlin

LC’s famous fish freeze during February flurry

Winter has arrived in full force in Portland, with multiple inches of snow covering the Willamette Valley since Feb. 12. Lewis & Clark was not spared from the storm, and neither were LC’s now-famous goldfish. 

The mysterious fish have captured the attention of the LC community and beyond. Since the publication of staff writer Tor Parsons’ article about the goldfish on Feb. 5, students have been seen gathering around the Lily Pond to admire the bright orange fish. The article has also garnered over 21,000 views on The Pioneer Log’s website, the most-viewed article in the newspaper’s history. 

The Lily Pond, home of the goldfish, possibly froze over during the storm. Adelaide Kaiser ’23, an editor for The Pioneer Log, inspected the pond during a recent winter walk.

“I was taking a walk because of the snow, and I went to go see if I could see (the goldfish),” Kaiser said. “It looked like it wasn’t totally frozen over, but there was slush and ice on top of (the pond), and I couldn’t see any fish inside.”

This storm has been particularly harsh, causing worry over the goldfish’s well-being. 

“What I read in the last article was that they can survive even if the pond is frozen over, as long as there is oxygen,” Kaiser said.

According to an article published in the journal Scientific Reports, goldfish can survive cold weather even when their pond freezes over. They developed a special gene that allows them to convert lactic acid into ethanol, permitting them to survive in environments with little to no oxygen. 

The goldfish have brought comfort and joy to many LC residents, including Jenn Sosa Ramirez ’23, who had been spending time admiring the fish since last spring. With the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ramirez would often visit the area by the Reflecting Pool in order to find some calm and gather her thoughts with the goldfish as her companions. 

When the winter storm hit Portland, Ramirez was worried about the goldfish.

“I did think about them today because of the snow,” Ramirez said. “Just seeing everything frozen, I was like, ‘Where did they go?’ My friends and I, we make this joke, that the fish flew away.” 

Ramirez was happy to hear that the goldfish were likely surviving the freezing temperatures, as she enjoyed their company throughout the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Since the one year anniversary of COVID in the U.S. is coming up, I’ve been thinking about going back to that side of campus and just sitting there like I did a year ago,” Ramirez said. “It would it be nice to still have them as my companions, as they were with me a year ago, when I did not know how my life was going to turn out.” 

Reflecting on the challenges that people have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ramirez was reminded that being able to attend college during this time is a privilege. 

“At LC we’re in our own little bubble, and we’re college students, we do have a privilege and being here and being able to continue with our studies,” Ramirez said. “I know that some people had to drop out and work to provide for their families. So I think it’s just a reminder that just like the little fish that are in their little pond, we’re out here at LC in our little bubble.” 

Ramirez wants to remind LC students that while we are struggling to push through this difficult time, it is possible to not only survive but to thrive (just like the goldfish). 

“I think if you just think about it, they’re surviving and persevering through this weather, (so) we can get through the semester,” Ramirez said. “It’s hard, I’m stressed, and I’m sure everyone else is stressed with midterms coming up. (But) there are fish out there, they’re thriving, they’re doing their thing, you go do your thing and thrive.”

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