There’s a very good reason why those yellow fish are painted on Oceanside storm drains — a reason that was hammered home this week when several dead coho salmon fry were found in Garden Road Creek.
Faye Smith, the head of the local Streamkeepers group, said the baby fish were noticed on May 21 by a resident walking beside the tiny watercourse, which is essentially a roadside ditch.
Smith believes the fish were killed by something either thrown in the stream or spilled elsewhere and then allowed to run into the creek.
“What happened I think was that either something went down a storm drain and went down Berwick or someone tossed old fertilizer when they threw out that old potting soil — which we found right under the caution, salmon at work sign.”
When Smith went to investigate, she found 30 dead trout, two dead coho fry and one that was still alive — but barely.
Smith called the fish kill a huge setback.
“What is wrong with people?” she asked. “Whatever they throw out ends up in our creeks. I didn’t think people were still doing things like tossing things into ditches and creeks.”
“I’m glad, I guess, that Coho did get up there and were starting to use that creek, but the fact that they’re dead is disappointing on so many levels.”
Just last summer the Town of Qualicum Beach hired a vacuum truck to clean out the sediments that had accumulated in the many excavated pools and Streamkeepers moved the fish out of the way.
“We counted hundreds of various sized Cutthroat trout,” she said. “As part of the finishing touches to last summer’s work, we added a bit of spawning gravel near some of the pools because our fisheries biologist, Dave Clough, mentioned that coho might find there way up there.”
Smith said her group plans to continue to monitor the creek. She said she is unsure exactly how much damage was done or how long it will take the creek’s fish stocks to recover.