Over 2,000 fish died in a tributary of Willow Creek in Campbell River this week, and though the cause is undetermined, Greenways Land Trust and the City of Campbell River say it is likely due to contamination in the river.
On Monday, Greenways staff and volunteers were doing streamkeeping work at the creek near Erikson Road and Reef Crescent. Executive Director Katie Lavoie said at the time “there were many visible fry swimming around in the pool by the culvert.”
After returning the next day, volunteer James Vasilyev saw that all of the fish were dead. Vasilyev contacted Lavoie, who then reached out to other Greenways and City of Campbell River staff, as well as Dogwood Operations and Mainstream Biological Consulting.
“We took water samples, and fish samples. Most of the mortalities were coho, but we saw trout, stickleback and sculpins. Estimated numbers more than 2,000. We put up stop nets to make sure that fish outside of the contamination area stayed outside, and Mainstream used electrofishing to move any living fry into the non-contaminated zone,” Lavoie said in an email.
The exact cause is unknown, and more information should be available as the samples are analyzed. Campbell River does have a spill protocol, which came out in February this year. That document is for people who either accidentally cause a spill or witness a spill, and is available at the city’s website.
Lavoie praised the community effort to prevent further fish loss. Greenways Land Trust has a Junior Streamkeepers program, which works with DFO to let people know that “whatever goes in the storm drains goes into the creeks (and then the oceans),” Lavoie said.