Wednesday, March 23, 2011

FISH DIE-OFF AT SAM SMITH

Last Sunday (March 22th) Friends of Sam Smith Park received a report of a fish die-off in the large pond at Sam Smith.  Upwards of 40 dead fish were counted.  FOSS immediately contacted the City Councillor, Laurel Broten's office, Toronto Region Conservation Authority and Environment Specialists in the City Parks Department.  All agencies responded immediately and inspections were conducted the following day by the Ministry of the Environment and TRCA.  The concern, of course, was about possible chemical contamination of the pond coming from North Creek which is, essentially, a stormwater run-off.  FOSS was assured during our inquiries by David Chapman, Park Supervisor, that the ice-skating trail does not use any chemicals in their operation.  The report below was forwarded to FOSS by Connie Pinto, Senior Project Manager at TRCA.  It looks as though there is a natural explanation for this event.  Interesting to note is that a similar fish die-off at Humber Bay was reported on the same day.  It was also investigated.


On March 21st TRCA staff conducted a shoreline/lake inspection within the area of Colonel Samuel Smith Park.  The inspection areas included, the boat basin, Lake Ontario open coast zone and the pond fed by North Creek.  Observations within the boat basin and open coast areas did not reveal any fish die-offs.  Located slightly northeast of the boat basin is the North Creek pond which did have a fish die-off.  The conditions within the pond is not ideal for overwintering fish habitat.  The pond is slow moving, relatively shallow and has abundant aquatic macrophyte biomass during the open water season.  Due to the habitat type and bathymetry, we believe that the fish die-off is a result of a winter kill and unrelated to fish health.  TRCA staff took photographs and visually inspected the fish located within the pond and did not observe any signs of disease.  The predominant fish species affected by the winter kill was Brown Bullhead (Ameiurus nebulosos) with 25 observed, Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) with 2 observed and Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) with 2 observed.

In addition to inspections, in-situ water quality parameters were taken and displayed relatively normal aquatic conditions.  In addition, surface water samples were collected as a precautionary measure. TRCA has spoken with Ministry of the Environment staff and they did not find any issues with suspected spills or contaminant releases.

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