COLUMBIA — The estimated number of fish killed in Flat Branch Creek last week has skyrocketed from an initial estimate of 1,000 to 14,000.
The fish kill assessment finished up Tuesday as employees from the Missouri Department of Conservation assessed three sites along the creek. A two-man team sampled for live macro-invertebrates, such as crawfish, and insects with a larvae stage in water, such as dragonflies.
The survey of the creek began after water that was used to extinguish the April 1 fire at O'Reilly Auto Parts on Business Loop 70 drained into Flat Branch through the storm water utility system.
The men scooped large mesh nets in Flat Branch at three different types of creek habitats within the reach of each of the three sites. They emptied the contents into plastic bins.
The samples will be examined under a microscope to look for live organisms that aren't big enough to see.
Rebecca O'Hearn, a resource scientist with the Department of Conservation and leader of the fish kill assessment, didn't expect to see much diversity in the organisms, especially with the many dead crawfish her team found last Friday.
There was a dead crawfish 10 inches long, she said.
Bill Mabee, a resource staff scientist for the Department of Conservation, was excited at the discovery of a live macro-invertebrate at the third site, a calopteryx, which is commonly called a damselfly.
Some larvae and worms were also found, said Seth Lanning, resource assistant with the Missouri Department of Conservation.