Jake Ballance and Griffin Knight

Salmon return to Sullivan Creek, thrilling Surrey students

Spotting is visual confirmation fish have returned after stream diversion to build school

Nobody at Sullivan Heights Secondary School can remember it happening before.

Bright red coho salmon – adult seven-pounders – spawning right behind the school in rain-swollen Sullivan Creek.

“It’s truly awesome,” principal Rex Hayes said. “The kids are really excited about this.”

Hayes almost didn’t believe it himself when teacher Jeff Vaughan spotted the fish in the creek, which is a tributary of the Serpentine River.

“We walk back there and lo and behold, there it is – a seven or eight pound salmon, bright red.”

Call it the little creek that could.

Sullivan Creek – a stream small enough to step over – once ran underneath where the school now sits.

Carrie Baron, Surrey’s drainage and environment manager, said the creek was diverted when the school was built about a decade built.

Rock and woody debris was carefully placed to make it more welcoming riparian habitat for salmonids, as the creek supports both coho and chum salmon.

Baron had assumed the fish were doing well, but said Sullivan Secondary’s report is the first visual confirmation she’s heard of it.

Classes practically ground to a halt as students headed out Friday afternoon to watch several salmon wriggle up and downstream.

“I’ve never actually seen it before,” vice-principal Bal Ranu said. “It’s the coolest thing to see.”

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