Occasionally, something captivates all of the internet. Sometimes, it is 30 to 50 feral hogs. Other times, it is zombie snails. For the past week, the thing that has brought us all together is a “salmon cannon” scientists developed to help with fish migration. Oh yeah, baby. We’re talkin’ about the big fish tube. We stan the big fish tube! We love the big fish tube! We all! Want! To ride! The big fish tube!!!
It all started when Dr. Kash Sirinanda (@kashthefuturist) shared a video of a fish passage system. “This system helps native fish pass over dams in seconds rather than day,” Sirinanda wrote, having no idea the fire and frenzy about to begin. The minute-long video starts off with a bang: a man putting a huge salmon into a white tube. No explanation. No hesitation. Just a fish goin’ into a tube.
The next 20 seconds of the video are absolutely buck wild. We see the fish riding through the tube like it’s Six Flags, the tube inclining gradually and declining, giving this fish, what we can only assume, is the absolute ride of its life. We see the background quickly changing from the water to what looks like a mountain landscape to a road to just the straight-up sky. Where is this fish going? And how far?!?
Finally, the fish comes out on the other side, flopping into the water, with no clue the journey it’s just been on. Oh, sweet fish. Have you no clue the joy, the glory, the majesty of riding the Big Fish Tube?
Understandably, this sent Twitter into a gleeful frenzy. We imagined the fear, the horror the fish must feel, being suddenly put in the fish tube. Quickly, our attention turned toward the fish tube itself. We wrote poems for the fish tube, songs for the fish tube. We wondered whether the fish tube would make for a better life, a good president. “Fish tube!” we sang, to the tune of DuckTales, of course.
This all begs the question, who is this fish tube? The video, which comes from Cheddar and Whooshh Innovations, answers most of the questions it poses. Put simply, the fish tube helps salmon and other fish cross a dam in order to reach spawning ground where they can reproduce. The tube expedites a trip that would otherwise take a day or so.
The salmon cannon (or fish tube or cod coaster) is safer and more cost effective than other systems to help with fish migration, like fish ladders. Though they sound like something from an old adage, fish ladders are a real thing that exist. They’re structures put in place for the same purpose as the fish tube: helping fish get over an obstruction in a body of water. Often, the structure is a human-built dam. So, as penance to the fish gods and to not disrupt the ecosystem, people build a fish-friendly migration structure to compensate for the big, non-fish friendly structure we put in their way.
All of this may have you wondering, “What is the big honkin’ deal about these fish? Why are we wasting our precious fish tubes on them?” As Whoosh Innovations — the company responsible for the fish tube and with perhaps one of the best onomatopoeic names to exist — explains on their website, it’s all in the name of creating a healthier, more sustainable earth.
“For hundreds of years, dams have blocked salmon and other fish from their natural migration and spawning grounds. In the last 100 years, hydropower has become the largest producer of clean renewable energy in the world. Despite decades of attempts, from fish ladders to trapping fish and hauling them in trucks around dams, none of the methods have been selective and good enough for the native fish and all were hard on the wallet. Our transformational solutions can restore native migratory fish runs and allow dams to remain in place. This breakthrough can save salmon and other species and be the solution for hundreds of federal government dams and thousands of private dams and barriers throughout the world, helping to assure our future fish protein supplies.”
In other words, the fish tube is for the greater good. All hail, the big fish tube.