John Oliver, host of HBO's "Last Week Tonight," may have found a new use for an innovative system designed to transport migrating Pacific salmon past dams.
The Salmon Cannon just gained a little love from Popular Science magazine, which awarded it a spot on the publication's annual Best of What's New Award list. It's one of 100 winners the magazine selected. But the system may receive more notoriety from Oliver, who discovered another use for the Salmon Cannon, using it to take aim at celebrities.
Oliver, the former "Daily Show" contributor, did a piece on the Salmon Cannon, developed by Bellevue, Wash.-based Whooshh Innovations. The company originally developed a system to move fruit plucked in Washington orchards rapidly yet gently in the fields via transport tubes.
Then the company realized its technology could be adapted to transporting fish, too; a pressure differential is introduced between the front and back of the fish to move them through a flexible tube. The company dubbed the resulting system the Salmon Cannon.
According to the company, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife used a 120-foot long system to safely transport nearly 100 tons of live migratory hatchery-bound salmon from the Washougal River.
And the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, in an independent U.S. Department of Energy-funded study, recently tested both a 40-foot and a 250-foot Whoosh fish transport system, comparing it to the traditional fish "trap and haul" process used to move fish past dams and other barriers. The study, the company says, is necessary for the transport of Endangered Species Act fish.
Oliver explored another way to use the Salmon Cannon. He loaded his own salmon cannon with fake fish and then "fired" them at a variety of stars. His targets included John Stewart of the "Daily Show," late night talk show hosts Jimmy Fallon and David Letterman and actor Tom Hanks, among others — even Homer Simpson couldn't escape Oliver's aim. Talk about your flying fish!
Whether Popular Science rewards Oliver with a Best of What's New Award next year remains to be seen.