Innovation That Matters

Images of native species taken in the Whoosh Passage Portal system | Photo source Whooshh

Fish cannon uses AI to help native species migrate


The Whooshh Passage Portal system uses a pneumatic tube and AI-powered sorting to help native fish species over dams

Spotted: Up to now, fish have been helped over dams by the use of fish ladders, or through being transported by hand around the dams. A Washington company called Whooshh has developed a way to use AI and a pneumatic tube to aid fish migration.

Fish enter the Whooshh Passage Portal system by swimming up a ramp, after which they are directed into a scanner. The scanner images and measures the fish. It also uses AI to sort invasive species from native species. The native species are directed into a soft plastic tube, which moulds to the body of the fish. Mist is simultaneously produced to lubricate the inside of the tube and allow the fish to breathe. Then, an air blower pressurizes the space from below, pushing the fish up and over the dam and into the river on the other side. From there, the fish can continue their journey to their spawning grounds.

Whooshh says that the rapid but gentle journey through the Portal is much less stressful for the fish than the effort of climbing a fish ladder, or the stress of being handled by humans. This has been confirmed by several studies. These studies also show that the system saves the fish so much energy that they are more likely to survive the rest of the swim back to their spawning grounds. 

Another added bonus of the system is that it requires very little of the river’s flow to be diverted. This is in comparison to fish ladders, which usually require 5 to 10 per cent of a river’s flow in order to operate. Whooshh allows this water to be redirected in order to increase hydroelectric output.

Springwise has covered a number of innovations for improving hydroelectric production. These include placing turbines inside water pipes and a wind-hydro plant. However, this is the first one that focuses on the fish, rather than the water.



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