Coho return to sullied B.C. river

VICTORIA — The highest number of coho salmon in a decade have returned to the Goldstream River on Vancouver Island, even though the fish left in 2011, the same year that thousands of litres of fuel spilled into the waterway.

VICTORIA — The highest number of coho salmon in a decade have returned to the Goldstream River on Vancouver Island, even though the fish left in 2011, the same year that thousands of litres of fuel spilled into the waterway.

However, few of the returns have tags that were attached to fish released shortly before the spill, adding to fears that any fish in the river at the time of the spill would have perished.

“The numbers are really encouraging for coho,” said Peter McCully, Goldstream Hatchery technical adviser.

About 900 fish have been counted so far. Returns are usually in the range of 75, but have occasionally risen to 500 fish.

Other southern Vancouver Island rivers are also seeing promising early coho returns.

No one knows for certain why the returns are good this year, but there must have been favourable survival conditions in the ocean, McCully said.

“With our natural human arrogance we think we know what’s going on and, every so often, Mother Nature gives us a quick kick in the pants,” he said.

There are interesting changes in how the fish are behaving this year, McCully said.

“It looks like the run is earlier than usual. Normally we don’t see them turning up in good numbers until November,” he said.

“Some have also taken on their spawning colours. The coho we would normally get at this time of the year are bright silver.

“Something is changing,” McCully said. Although hatchery volunteers are delighted with the number of coho, the lack of tags is not good news for any fish that were in the river in April 2011, when a Columbia Fuels truck rolled over and spilled 43,000 litres of gasoline and 700 litres of diesel, much of which leaked into the river.

“When the spill occurred in 2011, we had started releasing our juveniles about three weeks before,” McCully said. “There were 8,000 fish released the day of the spill. Altogether, 34,000 fish were released prior to the spill.”

Most of those had clipped adipose fins and nose tags, but less than two per cent of the returns are tagged.

“It supports the worst fears that everything downstream of that spill was compromised,” McCully said.

That could include steelhead and cutthroat trout as well as salmon.

Just Posted

Small aircraft short on fuel touches down on Calgary street

CALGARY — A small aircraft carrying six people has made an emergency… Continue reading

How hospitals prepare for mass-casualty incidents like Toronto van attack

TORONTO — Mass-casualty disasters like Monday’s deadly van attack that sent 10… Continue reading

Chinese automaker plans electric car production in SAfrica

BEIJING — A state-owned Chinese automaker announced plans Wednesday to produce electric… Continue reading

International probe shuts down cyberattack provider

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — In a major hit against cybercriminals, an international… Continue reading

Rental agencies struggle with screenings as security concerns rise

Monday’s deadly rental van rampage in Toronto shows how quickly a vehicle… Continue reading

WATCH: Alberta’s revenue shortage discussed during event at Red Deer College

Albertans need to be taxed more so public services, like schools and… Continue reading

Maple Leafs, Raptors, TFC create perfect storm of sports buzz in Toronto

TORONTO — The Raptors are hosting, but supporters of the Maple Leafs… Continue reading

Jury to deliberate after Cosby painted as predator, victim

NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Jurors at Bill Cosby’s sexual assault retrial are poised… Continue reading

B.C. researchers get patent to develop potential vaccine for syphilis

VANCOUVER — Researchers at the University of Victoria have been granted a… Continue reading

Mane Event rides into Red Deer

A weekend for the horses comes to Red Deer, as the Westerner… Continue reading

Edmonton retiree robbed of $210K in silver bars police investigating

EDMONTON — Police are hoping that they can provide a silver lining… Continue reading

Cause of plane crash that killed former Alberta premier Jim Prentice to be released

The findings of investigation into the plane crash that killed four set to be released.

MPAA head says theatres will survive rise of streaming sites

LAS VEGAS — Two film industry leaders told theatre owners Tuesday that… Continue reading

Turning vehicles into deadly weapons is easy and cheap, expert says

Preventing people from using vehicles as deadly weapons is a difficult task… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month