Stream Temperature Study

Temperature Logger

Stream temperature is an important water quality issue. High stream temperatures (>20°C) are lethal to fish and can harm many other life-forms that live in the stream. The Morrison Creek Streamkeepers have installed two small little temperature “dataloggers” that automatically record the stream water temperature every 4 hours. The 1st of the dataloggers is located near the headwaters, and the second is located down near the mouth of Morrison Creek at the very bottom of the watershed. The data is downloaded onto a computer using a portable shuttle device. Here are some photos of the dataloggers. The data obtained from this study will be posted in this section in the near future.

Stream Temperature Study

Most small to mid-sized streams on east-coast Vancouver Island tend to experience very low flows during late summer months – it is not uncommon for large lengths of these stream channels to dry up completely! However, Morrison Creek is unique in that it has cool, strong, and steady flows throughout the year. These flows originate from springs, wetlands, and beaver dam complexes located in the headwaters of the watershed. In light of the importance of these flows to the health of the watershed, the MC Streamkeepers have started a volunteer-based study to monitor streamflows in the watershed throughout the year. The main purposes of this study are to:

  • gather “baseline” information that will allow us to monitor future changes in seasonal streamflow volumes in Morrison Creek resulting from residential and industrial development in the watershed.
  • determine the amount of water that is available for agricultural, residential, and industrial purposes now and in the future;
  • identify seasonal variations in creek flows as they relate to fish habitat during periods of high, average, and low flows;
  • inform an integrated analysis aimed at generating creative land-use and development plans within the watershed.

Biologist Warren Fleenor holding a flow meter.

This project was started in late July 2009. We were fortunate to get low flow data for the past summer and fall as this was the driest period on record (since 1936)! Six staff gauges (large 1 meter “rulers” that measure the height of water) are located throughout the watershed and are monitored twice per week by our volunteers. If you’d like to help out with this project, please see the Get Involved section on this site.

Use the graphs below to get an approximate flow rate based on a staff gauge reading at any of the six sites in the watershed.

Smolt Fence Project

Introduction: Young coho that have been living in the freshwaters of the Morrison Creek Watershed for about one year all leave the watershed and head to the ocean for the next phase of their lives between April and June. This provides us with a great opportunity to count all the young coho that are produced in the watershed over the past year. To do this, the Morrison Creek Streamkeepers operate a volunteer-run temporary counting fence at the bottom of the watershed. These “smolt” fences are temporary structures that span the width of streams. Out-migrating smolts are held in a temporary screened enclosure (a “holding box”) before being identified by species, counted and released downstream twice a day by volunteers. The main reasons for counting the number of coho being produced by the Morrison Creek Watershed are to:

  • provide baseline data to measure the effectiveness of watershed management initiatives such as stream enhancement;
  • provide baseline data to measure the effects of future land-use changes, such as urban development or resource-based industrial development;
  • identify different species of salmonids that live in the streams;
  • provide an idea as to the total number of fish the watershed can support;
  • provide information on year-to-year coho smolt productivity for regional stock management analysis.

In addition to providing valuable data, the smolt fence is an excellent public outreach tool. It is an excellent opportunity for the local community to get involved in watershed-based activities.

Smolt Data


2002 was the first ever year that the Streamkeepers operated a smolt fence in Morrison Creek. Our volunteers counted a total of 15,116 coho smolts, and 814 trout (rainbow and cutthroat) in the 58 days of operation. The 2002 Morrison Creek Smolt Fence Data can be found here. We have been putting up a smolt fence almost every spring since then.

Our last year of counting was exhausting as 2009 was a banner year for salmon in the Creek.  We finished with: 172,975 chum fry; 11,264 coho smolts; 138 cutthroat trout; and 18 rainbow trout.  The small number of trout was because we reduced the size of the intake to exclude them as they were getting into the box and consuming large numbers of salmon fry!  Unfortunately, the lamprey numbers are decreasing and therefore we could not get permits to continue with the smolt fence in subsequent years.