The warm sunny weather this spring has been very enjoyable, but to stream-dwelling fish it spells disaster. Many of the streams on Vancouver Island have very low water levels and this situation is likely to get worse as summer progresses.
Low summer flows are typical of many local streams but this year it is happening at least a month earlier than normal.
Piercy Creek, the main tributary of Millard Creek, usually dries up to a series of unconnected pools by mid-summer, resulting in mortality of rearing coho salmon juveniles due to high temperature, low oxygen and increased predation from raccoons and other predators.
Coho salmon rear in freshwater for a full year before migrating to the estuary as smolts in spring so sufficient good quality water is essential to their survival.
Recently, volunteers from Millard-Percy Watershed Stewards captured an estimated 1,500 coho fry from Piercy Creek adjacent to Piercy Creek Estates and released them into the enhanced side-channel of Millard Creek.
Because of its spring-fed origin, Millard Creek flows year round, even during dry summers. It is hoped that, by undertaking this transfer, the survival of these fish to the smolt stage will be increased significantly.
Millard-Piercy Watershed Stewards have been actively involved in improving the health of the watershed for more than 20 years, and is always looking for more volunteers. For additional information visit millardpiercy.org.