(CNN) – The internet is losing its collective mind over a video of Whooshh Innovations’ salmon cannon — yes, that is the real name — built to zip fish over hydroelectric dams that block their migration paths.
The video shows a man chucking a salmon into a tube. The translucent channel is suspended mid-air, and the fish’s speeding shadow tells a harrowing story of a life in upheaval. On it goes, for what probably feels like years in fish time but is in reality only a few seconds, until the fish is spat out on the other side of a dam.
IWhooshh Innovations CEO Vince Bryant said the video, created by streaming news network Cheddar, was stitched together with footage dating to 2014, when its first cannon was sold.
The first system required workers to hand-feed fish into the tube to bypass the dam, but today’s version lets fish swim into it themselves, he said.
The salmon are propelled by the differential pressure between the front and the back of the fish and sent into the flexible tube that expands to their size. Once inside, the fish are misted with water to keep them breathing. And within a few seconds, they’ve splash-landed on the other side of a dam, he said, where they can safely reach their spawning grounds.
What bugs Bryant the most is the claim that the fish are in pain. He cited an April study from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory that found salmon slung through the cannon sustained fewer injuries than traditional systems like fish ladders, which force salmon to jump up “rungs” upstream.
“There’s no stress for the fish,” Bryant said. “It should be a comfortable ride for them.”
The salmon are zipping at an average of 22 miles per hour, so at least the trip is a quick one. The contraption moves about 50,000 fish every 24 hours, and it is an efficient way to help shift salmon to the upper reaches of rivers where they lay their eggs, Bryant said.
The company has so far sold 20 of its salmon cannon systems — which are much cheaper than traditional fish ladders, Bryant says — to government agencies across the United States and Europe. The longest one it has built was more than 1,700 feet, more than a quarter of a mile.