Aug 17, 2019 | Updated: 07:24 AM EDT

The Science Behind the Viral “Fish Cannon” Video

Aug 14, 2019 10:09 AM EDT


The web's most viral video-for now-is of a giant tube that transports living fish across dry landat an exceptional rate. The purpose of the tube is to expedite the travel of fish from the lower dam waters to the upper waters where more food can be found. Prior to this invention the transfer of fish could take as much as a day, but now the process only requires a few seconds.

Although the video has just recently gone viral via Twitter, the technology isn't exactly new. It was originally developed by Whooshh Innovations, to facilitate the transport of fresh fruit in order to minimize bruising. The method has been in use in Washington State for nearly six years. After government and tribunal agencies seen the success the system had with fruit, they decided to incorporate it in the transportation of live fish.

While the cannon may look to possess a certain degree of danger for the fish, Mark Johnston, a research scientist for Yakama Nation Fisheries in central Washington, says the tube is perfectly harmless. "The fish fly right through without so much as a scratch," Johnston stated in a press release.

The Whooshh system can accommodate fish of varying sizes, fish ranging from two pounds to a whopping 34 pounds can be transported using the tubes. The tubing automatically forms to the fish creating a vacuum that helps push the fish through the tubes requiring absolutely no water. The system only uses about one to two PSI to move the fish, and according to studies this low pressure system causes zero damage to the scales, eyes, fins or any other part of the fish.

 "They just glide because there is essentially no friction in the tube," says Whoosh CEO Vince Bryan lll.

On average the fish travel roughly 18 miles per hour. If they are to be dropped into open water there is normally no use of a deceleration mechanism, however, if the fish are to be dropped into a confined space, the tubes are fitted with sensors that slow the fish down prior to exiting the tube.

"Good engineering and mathematics went into the angles," Bryan tells Popular Mechanics, "so a fish that follows isn't hitting the one that came out before."

Not only is the process extremely interesting and fun to watch, but it also serves as a safer, less stressful, and more efficient way to transport fish. Previous methods required excessive handling of the fish and also needed extensive resources to accomplish the same results.

"The process is much easier on the fish than the old method that involved totes and forklifts and a lot more time," Eric Kinne, the hatchery reform coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, tells Popular Mechanics.

"The sky's the limit on these things," he says. "It seems to be very easy on the fish."

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