Inventions That Will Save Marine Life: The Salmon Cannon

Written by on September 12, 2014 in Marine Life

Salmon Cannon

Salmon are born in fresh water, travel hundreds of kilometers to the ocean for most of their adult lives, and then navigate all the way back to the exact same spot they were born to spawn. But artificial water constructions, like dams, have made their journeys difficult and sometimes deadly.

Fish ladders have been used as a successful method to help salmon and other migratory fish make their way back home without getting disoriented, injured, or killed in turbines, but now there’s an even better solution: the salmon cannon.

Created by Wooshh Innovations, the salmon cannon transports fish in a soft fabric tube at speeds of five to 10 meters per second (11-22 mph). This method is gentle and keeps the fish out of water for only a few seconds.

The cannon has been tested at multiple locations in Washington state. The team manually fed fish into the tubes during some trials, and let the fish swim into it themselves in others.

Check it out:

The successful trials of salmon cannon come at a particularly good time, as a new study revealed that sockeye salmon that have to sprint to spawning grounds through fast-moving waters have an increased mortality rate.

When swimming through rapids or downstream dams, salmon must swim extra fast, using a behavior known as “burst swimming,” which requires extra oxygen and energy and can lead to cardiac collapse or heart attacks. The researchers found that if salmon chose to burst swim for long periods, they were more likely to die on their way to their spawning grounds than fish that swam slower.

“Our work demonstrates how important it is for salmon to have easy access around obstacles in the river,” lead author and University of British Columbia research biologist Nicholas Burnett explained in a news release.

Copyright © 2014 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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  1. How the World of Marine Technology is Changing / C-Tremblay | November 21, 2014
  1. Emily Speranza says:

    I think this is a great system. It keeps the fish safe but also effectively gets them back into the water. I think less fish will die this way.

  2. Halie Palmer says:

    Before I started reading it,and it seems like a brilliant idea.But, when I saw the video, it pointed out the flaws to me. I thought this was supposed to help protect the fish,but with all of the time it takes to transfer the fish, doesn’t not being in water kill them? I don’t know if this gunna help or harm.

  3. Emily says:

    The transfer is pretty quick, so if the fish swim into the system on their own and are transported directly into the next body of water, the company believes it won’t be an issue.