With the sunniest month in recorded history in the Lower Mainland now stretching into August, the Hyde Creek Watershed Society has a new kettle of fish to worry about.
Unfortunately, not all of them are living. A brief downpour last weekend led to the death of hundreds of young coho fry.
Society volunteers continue to monitor the diminishing ponds in Hyde Creek and help relocate coho fry to deeper water. Without their help, thousands of the fish wouldn't stand a chance.
And while rain is usually a helpful occurrence, last week's brief drizzle only managed to carry oil and poisonous materials from nearby roads into the water, killing more than 800 coho fry.
This hasn't dampened volunteers' efforts to save the fry. It's a never-ending challenge for the society's membership.
"Unfortunately, the salmon fry and other creek creatures die," said society member Jean Peachman, if nothing is done. "The creek dries up in spots. One reason is that Hyde Creek was diverted from its natural course during the '50s due to flooding." The new creek bed around Coast Meridian Road and DeBoville Slough dries out during hot spells, according to Peachman.
But now with many fish being relocated the coho fry don't have to worry about their new homes drying up.
"A few of the ponds may have artesian water supplying them and their creek base is good and solid," she said. "Terry [Sawchenko] and other members have watched these ponds over the years and now know which hold reliable amounts of water during the hot weather."
Members of the watershed society will be out all summer monitoring the situation as it goes on, and are constantly sending out work parties on the weekend to not only save fish, but weed out invasive plants as well.
One such member is Ian Barrie, who worked on relocating the fish last week.
"Once they get trapped in a small area and there's no food, they could die," he told the Tri-Cities NOW. "If it's enough water that's fine, but that water gets warm and there's less oxygen in the water and the fish could die. Besides that, they wouldn't have much room to travel."
He estimates members saved a couple thousand coho fry last weekend, but they're fairly small fish, Barrie said.
"The fish are a very important part of the overall environment," he said.
"When the fish spawn and die, the nutrients are put back in the water. They also provide as fertilizer for the forest."
Any one wishing to help can show up to the Hyde Creek Watershed Society on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon.
If you know of any diminishing fish ponds you can call 604-461-3474 (FISH) or e-mail email@example.com and a rescue will be organized.
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