The precipitous decline of salmon in US waterways is well documented. The problem is that dams have clogged up rivers, keeping salmon from spawning in areas where they were conceived. At the same time, the positive impact of salmon returning to their spawning grounds by the millions had a significant impact on local ecosystems and human cultures. When salmon die they leave important nutrients, becoming a part of the food chain from feeding bears and microorganisms to humans.
At the same time, there has been a growth in salmon farming, which critics believe make salmon much less genetically diverse making them more vulnerable to disease.
A company called Whoosh Innovations, that is well-known for its pneumatic tube transport of fruit, is seeking to help salmon survive the long trips back to their spawning grounds by sucking them up in pneumatic tubes, transporting them from 11 mph (18 km/h) to 22 mph (35 km/h) over man-made obstacles, including the tallest dams, upriver. Fish up to 33 pounds (15 kg) are currently the maximum size for efficient operation of the new technology.
The system transports about 40 salmon per minute and has been tested at three different sites in the state of Washington. Currently, fish are trucked, shipped by boat or transported by helicopter to reach points upstream; the new system is expected to be cheaper and more effective.
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