Saturday, August 16, 2014

Behold... The Salmon Cannon

If you're not in the Pacific Northwest salmon country, and I'm about as far from there as you can get and still be on the North American Continent, you might not realize that transporting salmon around hydroelectric dams is a big problem - and a small industry.  According to one source I read, the spent over $500 million transporting about 2 million salmon around dams on the Columbia river - or $250 per fish.  I would imagine you could buy them airfare and fly them inland for not much less.  (Imagine if you will an airport waiting area populated by ticket-holding salmon who are reading newspapers, fiddling with their smartphones and semi-patiently waiting for their plane to leave).  From The Verge, a story about a possible way to do it cheaper, better for the fish, and, well, funnier: 
Salmon are amazing fish. They’ll swim hundreds of miles against the current, hurl themselves up waterfalls, and risk being eaten by bears as they return to their birthplace to spawn. But some obstacles are too much, and that’s where Whooshh Innovations comes in. Behold, the salmon cannon. Seriously, watch this video of fish getting launched out of pneumatic tubes:

Whooshh Innovations ("Whoosh" was already taken) first designed its tubes to transport fruit, but as Washington state debated what do about hydroelectric dams and the salmon whose migrations they blocked, the company saw its technology might have another purpose. If Whooshh tubes could send apples flying over long distances without damaging them, maybe, an employee thought, they could suck fish up and over the dams blocking the Columbia river.
So they put a tilapia into the fruit tube and let it fly, proving both fish and fruit are subject to Bernoulli's laws.  Whooshh is aware of the giggle factor here.  To quote Todd Deligan, Whooshh's vice president:
"At a talk at the National Hydropower Association, I hit play on the video and the first fish goes flying out, and the audience is dying. I had to say, 'It's okay to laugh, this is utterly ridiculous.' Then people start talking and they say, 'Holy cow, why hadn't we thought of something like this before?'"
The salmon cannon isn't fully operational, but they have tested it by destroying Alderan, a small planet on the edges of the empire ... no, sorry ... they've tested it a couple of times in the Columbia River system.
The test in June showed that fish will voluntarily enter the tube. When they swim into the entrance, the vacuum sucks them in and gives them initial boost; after that, elevated pressure behind the fish keeps them moving at about 15 to 22 miles per hour till they go flying out the other end. The speed, Deligan says, can be adjusted. Mist is applied to keep the fish wet as they zoom along. Currently the tubes are being hand-loaded, but Deligan says the test at the Roza site showed that "the fish just swim right in."
More tests are planned, but unless something bad shows up, it looks like someday you might see salmon flying to get around dams.  Without chartering airplanes.


  1. WOW! I never thought about that.

  2. Before they began transporting fish around these dams they had very efficient fish hatcheries at the dams. They trapped the fish, took the eggs, fertilized them and raised them for release next year. While doing this they were able to process the adult salmon into market ready salmon steaks and fillets. But then the environmentalist got into the act. What they really want is to force the removal of the dams. Following Alinsky's rules for radicals they intend to break the system. They forced various expensive solutions to allowing the "native" salmon to go upstream to their "native" spawning grounds. Then of course these "native" salmon couldn't survive the trip through the power generators so another expensive solution must be devised. Rest assured that if this simple "fix" works as advertised it will either be rejected or another expensive "fix" will be required. The goal is to make the dams too expensive to operate. It has nothing at all to do with salmon. In fact the fish hatcheries could raise so many salmon wewould see it selling for a buck a pound. In fact we could flood the ocean with salmon. It was never about the salmon it is about cheap energy and how to destroy it.

  3. Anon 1121: Without knowing a single other thing about the issue and the area, I'd bet that was 100% true.

  4. One other point on my anti-environmentalist rant. At or near the mouth of the Columbia river is a very large island that has come about because the environmentalist have opposed dredging. let me be clear the channel was dredged but not in the usua way and not in a timely way so sediment has created an island where there never was one. Now non-native birds, Russian Cormorants I think, live on the island in the hundrends of thousands. The eat the salmon fry as they traverse the river to the ocean. Even though these are non-native birds and the island is the result of previous environmental dithering and court actions the environmentalist have also prevented any effort to remove the island and/or eliminate the birds. Consequently millions of native salmon frys never make it to the ocean. It certainly appears that the effort is to put the salmon run under a threat that will require a big/huge fix. They have their eyes on the dams on the Columbia. Simple as that. The salmon are merely pawns in a greater game.

  5. Priorities. Environazis to the Gulag, where they can be fed Russian Cormorant Gruel while they shovel away a certain island. Hey, a shovel-ready project! When they're done, they can dig a tank trap and kneel along the edge, like they plan to do to others. Failing that, they can shut up or emigrate. Choices! Yes we can!