At left is an image from an exhibition by artist Vera Saltzman that is on at Slate Gallery until April 9.
If you read this CBC report about the show, you’ll learn that Saltzman grew up in Atlantic Canada, so she has a resonable degree of familiarity with fish and aquatic habitats. When she was walking along the shore of Echo Lake in the lower Qu’Appelle Valley watershed she stumbled across hundreds of dead fish that had been washed up on shore.
The fish kills are not uncommon in Saskatchewan lakes, a biologist notes in the CBC report, and are typically caused by algae blooms that deplete the oxygen supply in shallow areas of the lake and result in large-scale fish die-offs.
The blooms occur naturally during the warmer months, but the frequency and severity of them is magnified when water quality is compromised. That’s certainly the case in the Qu’Appelle system, where factors such agricultural run-off and periodic releases of untreated sewage from Regina, heighten the nutrient content of the water. That leads to larger than normal algae blooms that wreak havoc on native fish populations.
Again, Saltzman’s exhibition Cry of the Lake Dwellers is on at Slate Gallery (2078 Halifax St.) until April 9. You can find out more on the Slate website.