Horticulture staff and students find M-building ponds full of soap on Sept. 11.
Horticulture staff and students find M-building ponds full of soap on Sept. 11.

By: Katrice Sutherland

Horticulture professors and students arrived in M building for their classes at 7 a.m. Sept. 11, only to find the program’s fish pond contaminated and several of its fish dead.

“Last night in M-building somebody put soap in the waterfall and pond killing about 150 fish in the process. Any info- please come forward,” an anonymous post published the same day on the “Spotted at Algonquin” Facebook page said.

The incident left people around the centre in dismay.

Cory Miller, a first-year horticulture student, was one of the first to see the mess.

“I noticed [the pump house] was quiet, so I walked over and saw just bubbles and a lot of dead fish,” Miller told the Times.

Horticultural technologist Rachel Rhoades filed a security report and led a small group of second-year students in the clean-up process.

Rhoades was able to confirm, beyond rumours, that three adult goldfish and 143 minnows died.

Fish that survived the soapy waters were moved to an uncontaminated pond while the waterfall and creek were being filtered of the suds.

As documented in the security report, the upper pond had to be emptied of water and all rocks washed to remove soap residue. The pond was then refilled with roughly 1,370 gallons of freshly treated water.

The Horticulture centre mandate clearly outlines its animal treatment policies within the studies of landscaping and living organisms: “The horticulture technicians continue to work toward perfecting husbandry for the fish.”

Rhoades, who followed all proper procedures after the infringement, defended the integrity of the program and the safety of the animals observed.

“We often lose fish in the course of caring for them but we prefer not to lose them to a slow unnecessary death that is the result of a supposed prank.”

Although the damages were not as severe as rumours claimed, passionate students were very upset at the mess and the violation of their studies. Some were disappointed that no suspects or justification for the act had been gathered.

Security is still investigating the incident.