Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Behold, the salmon cannon

Photo: Bill Schaefer (Getty Images)

Humanity mostly treats our planet’s wide array of animals like shit. We eat as many varieties of them as we can, destroy their habitats, stick them in zoos, and force domestic species like dogs and cats to suffer the indignation of being dressed up in embarrassing costumes. In the case of some salmon, at least, we appear to be making amends by both helping them migrate (past the dams we built) and giving them a fish-only amusement park ride to call their own.

We’re pleased to introduce, for your viewing pleasure, the “salmon cannon.”


As shown above in a clip shared by Dr. Kash Sirinanda, the cannon is used to move salmon across the dams that block their autumn migration. Mike Dearan, chief engineer at (the very aptly-named) Whooshh Innovations, told Washington’s KOMO News that water is used “to keep them moist and keep their gills moist...for the few seconds” it takes for the fish to get sucked into the tubes, sped to their destination, and dumped back out into the water. We imagine, to the fishy mind, the transportation part of all of this feels a bit like the “star gate” sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

While, on a first glance, the cannon seems like the most exciting thing that will ever happen to these fish, some have already pointed out that it may come with certain drawbacks.


By and large, though, the system is a good thing. A marketing director at Whooshh told KOMO that the cannon is less expensive and, probably because it looks fun as hell, less stressful than the fish ladders currently used to help salmon over dams. It is also, as @Tuftecake illustrates well, the closest any fish will ever come to the simple joy of a Mario game. If nothing else, that’s worth celebrating.


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About the author

Reid McCarter

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.