“Desperate times call for desperate measures”*…
For centuries, salmon have made their way upstream to spawn, (literally) overcoming extraordinary obstacles to reach their spawning grounds.
But the advent of hydroelectric power, while it has manifest benefits in reducing the greenhouse gases otherwise associated with electricity generation, has wreaked havoc on the salmon’s annual pilgrimage. Dams have eliminated their routes…
“Fish ladders” have been introduced in an attempt to give the salmon an alternative route.
But they don’t work very well: too few fish are strong enough– or lucky enough to get through the other hazards created by dams– to make it.
To the rescue: Whooshh Innovations and their Salmon Cannon.
Originally used for transporting fruit gently (and accurately) over large distances, these pneumatic tubes were recently applied to fish, with astoundingly successful results. As the Vice President of Whooshh Innovations, Todd Deligan, said,
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?’”
That was five years ago. Now in September, the first Salmon Cannons (yes, they are actually called Salmon Cannons) were successfully tested this past June at Washington’s Roza Dam, and are poised to rocket salmon onto trucks where they will be taken farther upstream than they’ve naturally been in a long time. If this, too, proves to be successful, the Salmon Cannon could be exactly what’s needed to restore the fish of the Columbia River to their natural, original runs!
* Eramsus, who was probably riffing on Hippocrates, who said (in his Aphorisms), “For extreme diseases, extreme methods of cure, as to restriction, are most suitable.”
As we prepare for takeoff, we might recall that it was on this date in 1999 that killer bees– Africanized honey bees– claimed their first victim in California. Virgil Foster, an 83-year-old bee-keeper, was mowing his lawn in Los Angeles County when he was stung at least 50 times by the highly aggressive bees. Foster’s three hives had been taken over by wild Africanized honey bees. Originally hybridized in Brazil in the 1950s in attempt to increase honey production, the killer bees had migrated north through Mexico.