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Dead fish found floating in High Park pond, city investigating

The city says it has begun to investigate the water in a High Park pond after scores of dead fish were found floating in its waters.

In a statement on Monday, city spokesperson Nitish Bissonauth said the dead fish were Bluegill, a water-warm fish native to Ontario, and died in Grenadier Pond in mid-April. High Park is located in Toronto’s west end, between Bloor Street West and The Queensway. It’s bordered by Parkside Drive on its eastern side.

“We are currently working alongside the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks to investigate the cause of mortality of the fish as it remains unclear at this time,” Bissonauth said in the statement.

Officials collected water samples last week and the city said it is still awaiting results.

According to the Ontario government, the Bluegill is a “small, very deep-bodied fish” that prefers warmer lakes and ponds, slow-moving streams with vegetation and clear waters that have some weed growth. The fish is a part of the sunfish family and is considered “plentiful” in the waters of southern Ontario.

Rick Portiss, senior manager of aquatic monitoring and management at Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), said in an email on Tuesday that officials are aware of the situation at Grenadier Pond.

Portiss said Ontario government officials have also been informed of the dead fish.

“We are collaborating with our municipal partner, the City of Toronto, and have conducted water quality sampling in the pond. These samples have been provided to the City for testing, and results are pending,” Portiss said.

A drone image of Grenadier Pond in High Park, where a large number of dead fish has been reported.
A drone image of Grenadier Pond in High Park, where a large number of dead fish has been reported. (Patrick Morrell/CBC)

According to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, the cause is not yet known, but it said fish die-offs are not unusual, particularly in spring and summer.

Any number of factors could be involved, including rapid temperature changes, disease and over-winter death, the ministry said. 

Karen Yukich, co-chair of the High Park natural environment committee, said in an email that she visited the pond on Tuesday. She said she saw a “sprinkling” of dead fish close to the shore, but the die-off is “nothing like” the one that occurred in the summer of 2013.

In August that year, hundreds of dead fish were found floating in Grenadier Pond and city crews used skimmers to clear the fish from the water.

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