The 'salmon cannon' nearly breaks the internet, but what is it?

The "salmon cannon", created by Whoosh Innovations has been around since 2014, is a fish handling and transfer system that assists in helping salmon and other migrating fish over dams and structures.

By
August 18, 2019 11:53
3 minute read.
The 'salmon cannon' nearly breaks the internet, but what is it?

A salmon attempts to leap rapids on the river Braan in Perthshire, Scotland. (photo credit: REUTERS)

As the old proverb goes, give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime. But teach the fish to swim up a "salmon cannon" and the internet loses their collective minds - for good reason.


The "salmon cannon", created by Whoosh Innovations has been around since 2014, is a fish handling and transfer system that assists in helping salmon and other migrating fish over dams and other man-made structures, unhindering their natural migration paths for a healthier fish population.

The video features a man load a salmon into the "salmon cannon", after which the camera follows the fish's journey through the system, traveling at around an average speed of 22 miles per hour - landing safely upstream less than 1,100 feet later - a median ride of thirty-five seconds.


However, the internet discovered the enigmatic innovation over the weekend - and the shock, awe and curiousness  of the creation sent social media into an absolute frenzy.

One Twitter user wrote, "None of their fish friends are going to believe they did this." While another wrote, "We are all just helpless fish zooming through this tube called life."


Comedian John Oliver ran a segment on his show Last Week Tonight, back in 2014 featuring the "salmon cannon".

Within the episode, John Oliver featured his own version of the cannon, which he used to launch fish onto the The Daily Show news desk of his previous co-star John Stewart - as well as at many other famous shows, actors and personalities, including Tom Hanks, Jimmy Fallon, Anderson Cooper and Rachel Ray to name a few.

"In your darkest moments of despair, when you see a world torn apart by war, I want you to remember that video and think... We can do great things," Oliver said during his segment.

After the "salmon cannon" starting trending throughout the internet this weekend, The Last Week Tonight Twitter account reminded everyone of the segment, sharing the amusing video once again and reminding Twitter they covered this phenomenon five years ago.


According to a CNN report, Whoosh Innovation CEO Vincent Bryant, created the video in 2014 when they sold their first cannon. The first cannon required laborers to feed the fish into the system by hand, but new upgrades to the system now allow the fish to swim into the cannon themselves to bypass the man-made structures.

"It's sort of been outrageous how long this has taken to catch on," Bryant told CNN.

"The salmon are propelled by the differential pressure between the front and the back of the fish and sent into the flexible tube that expands to their size. Once inside, the fish are misted with water to keep them breathing. And within a few seconds, they've splash-landed on the other side of a dam, he said, where they can safely reach their spawning grounds," CNN wrote in their report.

With regards to many claims of this system causing pain or distress to the fish Bryant responded by saying to CNN, "There's no stress for the fish. It should be a comfortable ride for them."

The company has sold 20 of it's "salmon cannons", mainly to United States government entities, according to CNN. The innovative system has the capability to transport nearly 50,000 fish upstream over these man-made obstacles every day, efficiently allowing the salmon to lay their eggs in greater numbers during these important migration periods.

"Clearly this is the greatest object ever invented," Oliver said.


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