Prince Edward Island National Park of Canada

Freshwater – Life on the Edge

Many small streams and freshwater ponds are nestled inside the boundaries of Prince Edward Island National Park. Many small streams and freshwater ponds are nestled inside the boundaries of Prince Edward Island National Park.
© Parks Canada

Many small streams and freshwater ponds are nestled inside the boundaries of Prince Edward Island National Park.  As the park stretches narrowly along the island’s North Shore, however, it includes only a small portion of the surrounding watersheds.  This means that water flowing into streams and ponds comes from land outside the park. 

“Our streams and ponds are at the bottom edge of our watersheds,” says Kirby Tulk, park ecologist.  “So water quality in the park is tightly connected to land use outside the park.  Nevertheless, there are still important steps we can take to protect our freshwater ecosystems.”

In 2007, Parks Canada began a project to improve the ecological integrity of Balsam Hollow Brook.  This stream runs through the Green Gable Golf Course and was altered during construction of the course in 1939.  To restore the brook, park staff removed concrete barriers, installed new culverts and bridges and planted native shrubs along its banks.

To understand how these changes have improved stream health, park staff, in cooperation with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, are monitoring local brook trout.  Wild fish were captured and given PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder) tags.  Each time tagged brook trout pass special in-stream sensors, an electromagnetic signal is sent to a nearby computer. 

Researchers regularly collect this information and use it to track the movements of individual fish.  By comparing information gathered before and after the restoration of Balsam Hollow Brook, scientists will learn how the improvements have affected local brook trout.