Some­thing fishy in Cu­pids

Dead fish in­ex­pli­ca­bly wash up by the thou­sands in the ma­rina

The Compass - - OPINION - BY DANIEL MACEACH­ERN dmaceach­ern@thetele­gram.com Twit­ter: @Tele­gramDaniel

The gulls had a feast, but Cu­pids res­i­dents are won­der­ing why thou­sands of dead fish sud­denly started wash­ing up on their shores ear­lier this week.

Eddy LeDrew of Cu­pids said the fish started wash­ing up Sun­day.

“One morn­ing I no­ticed that the gulls were eat­ing a lot of fish out in the (salt­wa­ter) pond,” he said. “The gulls were tak­ing a lot of fish out of the wa­ter, which is unusual for this time of year. They were feast­ing on them. I looked out with a spy­glass, but I couldn’t fig­ure out what it was.”

Walk­ing out on the wharf, LeDrew dis­cov­ered thou­sands of dead and dy­ing fish, float­ing on the sur­face and wash­ing ashore. They were small fish, two inches to a foot long, said LeDrew, and in­cluded cat­fish, cray­fish and eels, as well as crus­taceans like shrimp and crabs. “They were float­ing in and out on the tide. They were all ei­ther dead or dy­ing.”

Sam Whiffen, spokesman for the fed­eral Depart­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans of­fice in St. John’s, said the depart­ment re­ceived a re­port about the dead fish Tues­day and sent an of­fi­cer to in­ves­ti­gate. By then the birds had picked Cu­pids clean.

“Wit­nesses re­ported to the fish­ery of­fi­cer that the dead fish were no­ticed when a large num-

“It’s very strange, what hap­pened.”

ber (of) se­abirds be­gan feed­ing on the fish,” wrote Whiffen in an email to The Tele­gram.

“Wit­nesses man­aged to col­lect 11 sam­ples of var­i­ous fish species be­fore the se­abirds con­sumed all of the dead fish. A sur­vey of the area did not iden­tify any sources of pol­lu­tion or habi­tat de­struc­tion. Of­fi­cers with En­vi­ron­ment Canada have col­lected wa­ter sam­ples and the dead fish for test­ing.”

Whiffen noted Fish­eries and Oceans Canada is the lead agency when fish die due to nat­u­ral causes or phys­i­cal dam­age to fish habi­tat, and En­vi­ron­ment Canada takes the lead on ma­rine-based pol­lu­tion. “Both de­part­ments are col­lab­o­rat­ing on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

LeDrew helped gather the sam­ples for in­ves­ti­ga­tors, and said he’s never seen any­thing like it.

“It’s very strange, what hap­pened,” said LeDrew. “I don’t know what it was. It had to be some­thing pow­er­ful dumped in the wa­ter some­where, went out with the tide and took ev­ery­thing with it, killed ev­ery­thing in­side the cove and the pond there.”

Photo by Ni­cholas Mercer/The Com­pass

DRAW A BUT­TER­FLY — Bri­gus face painter Jessie Downey was a busy per­son this week­end. She more than likely painted the face, or ap­pendage, of hun­dreds of young chil­dren from all over the Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion-Pla­cen­tia re­gion. Here she paints the face of Brody McCaul.

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