Approximately 300 salmon fry and trout were found dead in Stoney Creek on Friday morning, many floating in what streamkeepers described as a milky grey cloud discolouring the water.
“I was showing my cousins the creek and we saw this whitish, greyish . . . thing,” said 12-year-old streamkeeper Luka Kovacic. “It killed all the fish.”
The spill was confined to an area northwest of North Road and Como Lake Avenue, noted Luka’s father, streamkeeper George Kovacic.
“Upstream, everything was alive. Downstream, everything was dead.”
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Stoney Creek winds down Burnaby Mountain on its way to the Brunette River. Despite construction and sewage spills, the creek has remained home to endangered species such as Nooksack dace.
Along with the fish, Luka also spotted a dead western brook lamprey, another endangered species, lying near the tributary.
Kovacic is awaiting an analysis of the fish from Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The water is being analyzed at Mossom Creek Hatchery.
Most concerning, according to president of the Burrard Inlet Marine Enhancement Society Kevin Ryan, is a pH of 10.81. “That alone would kill everything in the creek,” he wrote.
For comparison, the pH level of ammonia is 11.
Generally, the optimum pH balance in a waterway is 7.4, according to a NASA report. Water that is too acidic or too alkali can be inhospitable to life.
A morning marred
Luka, a youtuber who makes salmon-related videos, had been planning to showcase Stoney Creek for his cousins on Friday morning.
“He was really excited to show everybody the great creek and all the work he’s doing on it,” Kovacic explained.
The spill was so thick they couldn’t see the creek bed, according to Kovacic. The fish they could see were being devoured by blue heron, Luka said.
“He was very disappointed,” Kovacic said. “Tears were forming.”