Based in Seattle, Whooshh Innovations designs systems that help fish move over obstacles. The company's tech uses AI to identify and sort out invasive species, differentiate between hatchery fish and those grown in the wild, and help fish move up and over dams to spawn.
The company created the patented Whooshh Passage Portal, but you may have heard of it by another name: the "Salmon Cannon."
The Salmon Cannon is a floating platform that uses a pneumatic tube to fire fish over dams of any height.
Fish are drawn into an accelerator. A door closes behind the fish and it is moved into the Whooshh Tube which moves the fish using an air blower. The fish are scanned by a machine vision scanner, sorted and then sent to a “glide” which delivers them to the other side of the dam at about 25 feet per second.
According to the company, the Salmon Cannon was introduced as a safer and faster alternative to fish ladders, which let all species pass, sometimes don't work at all, and have even devastated some native species.
Using the Salmon Cannon, a fish can pass a dam in 2.55 minutes. A fish ladder, on the low end, takes 2.88 hours. The cannon also operates autonomously and is monitored remotely.
The design has been in use since 2011 to relocate 19 different species, everything from sturgeon and steelhead to Asian carp and walleye, moving up to 60 fish per minute, or 86,400 fish per 24 hours.
The Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center uses the system to remove invasive carp from state lakes.
With 85,000 dams in the U.S. and about 1 million worldwide, it’s likely you’ll find a Salmon Cannon a waterway near you. Though they may also call it by its other name, the "Dam Smart Fish Passage."