Mike Kory, environmental technology instructor at Camosun College, stands near the storm drain from where some unknown substance flowed into Douglas Creek, killing about a dozen chum Salmon. (Wolf Depner/News Staff).

Students witness Saanich creek spill that kills a dozen fish

Camosun college students and their instructor were taking samples when spill happened

It was the sort of hands-on lesson Mike Kory did not anticipate.

The environmental technology instructor at Camosun College was taking water samples with a handful of students at Douglas Creek around lunch time on Friday, May 24 when they could see suds bubbling up in the water near a storm drain emptying into the creek just underneath Ash Road bridge.

RELATED: Saanich investigating oil spill near Mount Douglas

A strong, tear-inducing odor also started to fill the air and dead salmon chum soon started to float up. Earlier, Kory had spoken to his students about how much the creek had improved, but now events were making a mockery of all the work that had gone into restoring the creek. Ultimately, Kory and his students counted a dozen dead fish, likely having suffocated.

“The students were out of their minds,” he said. “They couldn’t believe it was happening.”

RELATED: Spill into Saanich’s Colquitz River could kill future salmon runs

Kory said the spill lasted for some 20 minutes, and left a deep mark on the minds of this students, whom he called “budding environmentalists” with some calling the District of Saanich to find out what happened. Cory also made some calls, but so far it is unclear who drained what into the river to kill off the fish.

Kory speculates that it was chlorine or bromine, chemicals used to clean pools and hot tubs, that spilled into the creek, with the proviso that he cannot be sure. Whatever entered the water, however, must have been highly concentrated, said Kory, who estimates multiple gallons of the harmful substance flowed into the creek.

READ ALSO: Six years into Douglas Creek’s five-year salmon restoration

When Kory and the students observed the spill, they did not take samples of water, as they instead focused their efforts on moving fish to another part of the creek to save them. Kory said it is not clear whether they survived.

Events such as this spill threaten to undermine the thousands of hours of volunteer work worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid work that went into restoring the creek as a salmon-bearing stream, said Kory, who wonders how many comparable incidents have already happened without anyone having noticed them.

RELATED: Salmon release at Douglas Creek a success

This said, he hopes that drawing attention to this incident will spark somebody’s memory.

“It was such a shame,” he said.

The Saanich News has reached out to the District for comment, and will update this story accordingly.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

VIDEO: James Bay wolf released into wild of western Vancouver Island

Conservation officers confirm wolf is from Discovery Island

John Lennon’s psychedelic Rolls-Royce on display at Victoria’s Royal BC Museum

The classic car has been a favourite for Beatles fans from Victoria and internationally

Coulson Aviation 737 tanker crews back in the air fighting Australian bushfires

CEO walks Australian crash site, pays tribute to fallen flight crew

Greater Victoria man killed in Alberta accident was expectant father

Geordie Murray described as ‘wonderful husband, brother son and friend’

Vancouver Island restaurant not setting trend by adding health charge to your bill

Move not catching on, as small businesses look for options to cover employer health tax

VIDEO: Driver guilty in Saanich crash that left 11-year-old with catastrophic brain injuries

North Saanich woman convicted on one count of dangerous driving causing bodily harm

First-place Canucks beat Blues 3-1 for ninth straight home win

Miller nets pair as Vancouver defeats Cup champs

Swapping grape varieties can help winemakers adapt to climate change: UBC study

Report says 56% of wine-grape-growing regions would be lost if global climate warms by 2 C

Alberta premier wants feds to approve Teck mine for benefit of First Nations

Kenney: ‘Surely [reconciliation] means saying yes to economic development for First Nations people’

Police search for man who went missing from Vernon hotel

Jay Rosenberger, 38, was last seen Friday

Filming for Resident Alien begins in Ladysmith

Aliens and excitement take over the streets of Ladysmith during new TV series

Women assaulted in pair of weekend attacks in Port Alberni

RCMP say no reason to suspect attacks are related, but suspects still at large

Crown Isle in Courtenay home to one of lottery’s prize homes

Extras with local BC Children’s Hospital prize include nearby townhouse, vehicles and cash

Most Read