Jumping salmon? A new casting technique? A killer effective streamer? Actually, it’s a genius water-pressure-driven pipe, that pulls salmon over a dam. This conservation measure not only works really well, but it’s also a blast to watch!
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What Exactly Is The Salmon Cannon?
Now this is an innovative way to get salmon over the many dams blocking their migration!
The Columbia River draining much of the Northwest is one of the largest salmon-spawning grounds in the world. Each year hundreds of thousands of salmon make the long migration from the Pacific Ocean up to tributaries of the Columbia to spawn.
Salmon are amazing, in how they work their way past predators, through debris and obstacles. However, their journey grinds to a halt when they reach the 236-foot Chief Joseph Dam. Not to mention the next dam, the Grand Coulee Dam has 550 feet to scale.
Whooshh Innovations developed a pneumatic vacuum tube, essentially a fish tube, to bridge the gap. Using differential water pressure, the fish get a lift. It’s hard not to imagine them having as much fun as at a water park! At least someone else is doing some of the work for a change.
ou can check out the action in this short documentary video:
How Was The Salmon Cannon Developed?
Interestingly, because the Northwest has huge orchards, the system was originally designed to transport fruit. Whoosh Innovations decided to experiment with fish, knowing that the large hydroelectric dams presented a formidable obstacle, and only a fraction of salmon were making it up the fish ladders.
“So we put a tilapia in the fruit tube,” Todd Deligan, a vice president at Whooshh told The Verge. “It went flying, and we were like, ‘Huh, check that out.'”
Pressing their system into further development, the company also tested it at the Roza Damn in Washington. “Grand Coulee would be the ultimate goal,” Deligan said.
With many pressures affecting the return of salmon, from California sea lions and Orcas feasting on them, to warming waters and agricultural runoff, the salmon need every bit of help they can get. What is awesome is, many of the salmon will actually voluntarily enter the tube.
As an innovative conservation measure, we hope the cannon becomes a long-term, and long-range tool for the job.
By Mark Velicer
An avid fly fisher for over 40 years, Mark has lived and fly fished WA, MI, CA, PA and NY along with countless trips to other places. He can’t get enough of the water; white water kayaking, rafting, drift boating, and hiking to alpine lakes.