When it comes to amazing advances in transportation, you've got to credit the chariot, train, car, plane, and finally the space shuttle. But the space shuttle might not be the zenith of transportation options -- at least not for fish. No, the greatest achievement in getting fish from one place to another is unquestionably: the salmon cannon.
Originally invented to help facilitate the picking of apples during a shortage of immigrant workers, the salmon cannon shunts the fish along a tube containing misters so that the fish can breathe. The lining of the tube produces very little friction so that the experience is as stress-free as possible for the fish. Air pressure drives the fish along the tube at speeds approaching 20 mph. Stress tests seem to show that the fish doesn't overly mind the procedure; it saves the fish a lot of travel.
The salmon cannon, manufactured by the aptly named Whooshh Innovations, therefore seeks to make it easier for salmon to get over dams, as eve dams with fish ladders can jeopardize the fish's safety and unnecessarily complicate the fish's spawn. Some dams do not have fish ladders at all, making them nearly guaranteed to kill the spawning fish unless more expensive options like a helicopter fly the fish over the dam and release them -- surely more dangerous and stressful than the Salmon Cannon.
In other words, installing a salmon cannon on some of Montana's waterways would help in restocking some bodies while avoiding some of the dangers to fish, like late-summer high-temperatures in some streams, like the Columbia, making them all but unpassable to the already tired salmon.
At any rate, it's one of those moments when I, as a human, get to feel jealous of an animal. When are they going to invent the people cannon? Oh, maybe they already did.
See the Salmon Cannon in action below!
And here's another piece from CBS news that shows some different angles of the salmon cannon. It appears as it it could be game-changer when it comes to the management of fishes in difficult-to-reach or dammed streams.
What do you think? Should Fish and Wildlife make an investment in the Salmon Cannon?