The Whooshh Transport Conduit - a cannon that shoots Salmon to safety
The Whooshh Transport Conduit is a cannon that shoots salmon to safety Whooshh Solutions

Washington-based company Whooshh Innovations has invented a "salmon cannon" that they say will help fish to migrate in safety.

The Whooshh Transport Conduit system works in a similar way to the pneumatic tube transport that you sometimes see in offices, transporting small items such as post and money at high speed in small cylindrical capsules.

The fish swim into a soft fabric tube and a vacuum is created around them that propels the fish through the tube at speeds of around 5-10 metres per second (11mph to 22mph).

The machine can transport up to 40 fish a minute and there is no danger of a fish becoming stuck as there is a size restriction at the entrance that means bigger fishes cannot enter the tube.

Salmon migration, also known as the Salmon Run, is where salmon return from the ocean to spawn eggs on the gravel beds of rivers. These fish hatch in fresh water and then swim out to sea where they lead their adult lives.

Whooshh goes the salmon out of the cannon
Flying fish: Salmon is fired from tube Whooshh Solutions

And when salmon decide its time to breed, they go back to the exact same spawning grounds where they were hatched.

However, there are many obstacles that a salmon can face on its journey home, as hungry predators such as bears, bald eagles and fishermen are usually lying in wait for their return.

Also, in modern times the natural water flow of the river is increasingly disrupted by man-made constructions, causing the fish to become disorientated. This is where the salmon cannon comes in handy, shooting the fish over obstacles with ease.

There are other ways in which fish conservationists try to help the salmon on their long journey.

For example, fish ladders are structures set up around artificial and natural obstructions, which help the fish navigate around barriers, but Whooshh says this solution is too costly to build at every obstacle.

Of course, it's much more fun to shoot the fish out of a cannon. This is definitely an invention that would make the creators of Monty Python proud.