PEI

Dead fish found in Cornwall stream were trout, watershed group says

P.E.I. government officials are looking into what killed fish in Hyde Creek in Cornwall.

Government officials taking further samples from stream Wednesday to determine cause

The dead fish were found in Hyde Creek. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

P.E.I. government officials are looking into what killed fish in Hyde Creek in Cornwall, just west of Charlottetown.

About 25 dead fish were taken from a 500-metre section of stream between Kellow Drive and Lacardy Drive, said Ken Mayhew, spokesman for the provincial Department of Forests, Fish and Wildlife. The number could grow as the investigation continues, he said.

The dead fish were found late Tuesday and reported to the Cornwall and Area Watershed Group. Watershed co-ordinator Karalee McAskill said the fish were brook and rainbow trout and stickleback, between 20 and 25 centimetres long.

There is always a delay in discovering a fish kill, says Ken Mayhew, and that can make the investigation more difficult. (CBC)

Provincial officials visited the site Tuesday to confirm the dead fish and began taking samples. Mayhew said fish deaths are unusual this time of year, and it's not yet clear if the cause is man-made or natural. 

Fish can die for many different reasons and our intent right now is to find what the cause was.- Ken Mayhew

"Fish can die for many different reasons and our intent right now is to find what the cause was," he said.

McAskill said tests in the creek over the summer didn't show low oxygen, so she doesn't think it's a natural event. But she's curious to find out.

"It being so late in the season I'm not sure what it could be," she said.

Staff from Environment Canada will join provincial officials Wednesday afternoon to take samples of water, soil, vegetation and fish.

An ongoing problem

Should this be classified as a fish kill, it will be the second reported fish kill on the Island this year, and the second in the last two years in the Cornwall area.

About 60 dead brook trout were collected from Campbellton Creek in western P.E.I. in July. In July of 2016, hundreds of dead fish were recovered from a section of the Clyde River, just west of Cornwall.

The investigation is ongoing in both those fish kills.

The province has recorded 28 fish kills since the summer of 2000. Pesticides have been implicated in 21 of those cases, with three still under investigation. Chlorothalonil, a fungicide, was found in 17 incidents.

Fish kills often occur after a heavy rain, which can wash pesticides and soil off fields and into streams. On Monday and Tuesday 26.8 mm of rain was recorded at Charlottetown Airport.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin Yarr is the early morning web journalist at CBC P.E.I. You can reach him at kevin.yarr@cbc.ca.

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