The salmon, in all their known species, is a famous fish for the thing it must do to keep their circle of life going. Hatching from eggs in freshwater streams and rivers, they go downstream into the sea as adults, and then swim back upriver in time for spawning season. This is a tedious and treacherous journey, with salmon trying to survive not only fishermen and predators but also obstacles like rapids and waterfalls. Hydroelectric dams in rivers tend to defeat salmon runs, but a tech company developed a system to “shoot” salmon through pressurized flexible tubes over dams to surmount them. This was back in 2014, but the “Salmon Cannon” gadget has found new notoriety in social media recently.
USA Today reports that the Twitter user base went absolutely bananas over the weekend following a tweet that went viral because it depicted the Salmon Cannon. The device, developed some five years ago by tech designer Whooshh Innovations, was initially developed as a means of helping restore freshwater migration patterns of fish, particularly salmon, that are interrupted by large obstacles on a river route like dams. Pressurized air propels fish through a soft tube over long distances and releasing them onto another body of water.
As stated, the system is already years old, but a recent spotlight of the Salmon Cannon last week brought the device to new prominence on social media, with many jokes and memes spawning in its wake like salmon eggs. Gags on the mechanism include the likes of comparisons to Elon Musk’s yet-unrealized Hyperloop concept. The frenzy over the “innovation” has gotten to the point that HBO’s late-night talk show and news satire “Last Week Tonight” posted online that they actually ran a piece on the Salmon Cannon on the year it first became public knowledge, with host John Oliver “demonstrating” their self-built cannon by shooting dummy salmon into other programs.
With regards to the revived notoriety of his company’s invention, Whooshh Innovations CEO Vincent Bryan says in interview that the footage of effortlessly propelling fish through the Salmon Cannon is a lot more complicated, with calculations for fish size and applied pressure factoring into the machinery that powers the tube. The old 2014 footage of hand-feeding salmon into the tube has actually been replaced by an automated entryway where fish swim in on their own.
Bryan adds that despite the seeming physical stress it puts on fish, the Salmon Cannon is a quicker and less injurious method of getting salmon over dams than the traditional “fish ladder” system. Its other applications have also been presented, such as transferring catch from fish farms by producers or evacuating fishes from drought-stricken areas.
Image from The New Daily