Category Archives: Streamkeeping

Coho Smolts Dying on Byrne Creek in Burnaby

One day after schoolchildren released coho smolts into Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, BC, fish were found dying. Studies show that coho are particularly sensitive to road wash that contains a toxic combination of pollutants including gasoline, oil, antifreeze, and metals.

coho smolts dying

They actually try to swim with their heads above the water as they try to escape the pollutants

It would likely help if the City of Burnaby council would actually implement the Byrne Creek Integrated Stormwater Management Plan and the Environmental Sustainability Strategy.

The watershed needs rain gardens, swales, and biofiltration ponds. The more road wash that is intercepted and naturally filtered in the ground the better.

UPDATE: I sent this to Dr. Jenifer McIntyre, a professor at Washington State University, who has been researching the impacts of road runoff on salmon. She shared a link to her latest published study comparing road runoff effects on coho vs chum.

Looks interesting!


Chum Fry Release in Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby

DFO,  Byrne Creek Streamkeepers volunteers, City of Burnaby staff,  and teachers, kids and parents from Stride Elementary released chum fry in Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby this morning. What a lovely day for this uplifting event!

Thanks to volunteers at the Bell-Irving Hatchery at Kanaka Creek who raised these wee fish.

It’s interesting how tentative many of these kids are in a natural environment, and how quickly and joyfully they adapt to it.

byrne creek chum fry release

Don’t Step in the Poop, Dear, People Want to Look at It

Don’t step in the poop, dear, people want to look at it. 🙂

Overheard today from a parent to a young child during a tracks and scat talk ‘n walk at the Kanaka Creek Stewardship Centre in Maple Ridge, BC.

Super event, great fun and educational to boot.

Folks taking turns observing raccoon tracks

Lovely Kanaka Creek

Scat with bones in it

Claw marks

The lovely stewardship centre

A cool bug

Kanaka Creek Tracks Scat
Yumi on the bridge

Moi enjoying the creek and forest

Fry Spotted in Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby

I spent a couple of hours after work this afternoon searching for fry in Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby. Success!

I spotted one near the wooden footbridge at the bottom end of the ravine, and half a dozen upstream and downstream of the Meadow Ave. bridge.

Din’t get any clear shots, but judging by the orange tails they were coho.

coho fry byrne creek burnaby

It’s always so rewarding to spot fry in the spring, for that means that salmon that came back to spawn in this stressed urban creek the previous autumn were successful in starting a new generation. Yay!

Spawner Patrols Winding Down on Byrne Creek

Yumi and I headed out for a spawner patrol on Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby today. The last live salmon were seen nearly a week ago, two coho in the sediment pond. We have not seen any spawners, dead or alive, for several days now, so the run appears to be over. We’ll likely check once or twice more as the weather allows, because we love creek and ravine rambles, fish or not! : – )
Paul Yumi spawner patrol

Sunny and clear. Good visibility.

Covered from confluence with John Mathews to base of stairs in ravine.

Did not see any spawners, dead or alive.

Heron, thrush, mallards… Racoon tracks…

More Coho Dying Unspawned on Byrne Ck in Burnaby

Volunteers with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society are seeing more coho prespawn mortality this season. That’s when coho that return to spawn die before they can do so.

This has been a recurring problem on the creek over the years, and is likely due to polluted road wash that carries contaminants into the water. There are ongoing studies in Washington State that point to a toxic brew of contaminants in stormwater as being lethal to coho, which seem particularly susceptible to it.

male prespawn mortality coho
We found this coho male today

female prespawn mortality coho
And this coho female full of eggs a couple of days ago

We get so few coho back to Byrne Creek that we treasure every one, and it’s so sad to see them die without completing their life cycle.

We desperately need to infiltrate water washed off from roads and parking lots into the ground through swales and rain gardens. The ground acts as a natural filter. Yet the Byrne Creek watershed in Burnaby, BC, is seeing more and more ground paved over despite hundreds of hours of professional and public input into Stormwater Management Plans and a recent Environmental Sustainability Strategy.

Note that it is illegal to interfere with spawning salmon. Streamkeepers have training and permission to process dead salmon to collect data on species, size, spawning status, etc. We return the carcasses to the creek after processing as they provide food and nutrients to other fish, animals and the overall ecosystem.

UPDATE (Dec. 7, 2017): More research coming from the US northwest.