By Alicia Sexauer, STL Critters and Creatures Care
What did the fish say when it hit the wall? Dam!-dad jokes courtesy of the internet and the author’s fondness for silly repertoire
Dutch Fish Have a “Doorbell” That Citizens Can Use To Help Them Pass Through The Canal
Two Dutch ecologists determined to aid the aquatic life in the Dutch city of Utretcht’s canals have invented a world first, the “fish doorbell”. Believe it or not, this is not an April Fool’s Joke.
An underwater, live-streaming camera has been installed at the “Weerdsluis” lock, this door allows residents (and other virtual viewers) to ring a virtual doorbell when they see fish waiting to get through. The doorbell is heard by the local lock keeper who can open the fish-sized door to allow the fish to pass through.
Friend to fish everywhere, Van Heukelum came up with the idea for the doorbell while working with a fellow wildlife ecologist Anne Nijs on a project highlighting Utrecht’s canals’ biodiversity. It was then the pair noticed how Patrick, the lock keeper opened a sluice (that small fish-sized door mentioned earlier) to allow a big group of fish that were arriving to pass through.
“You have to see the Oudegracht (the canal) as a motorway for fishing. Sometimes you see literally dozens of fish floundering in front of the lock gate, so a fish jam is created,” says underwater nature expert Mark van Heukelum.
“The Weerdsluis is the link between the Vecht and the Kromme Rijn. In winter the fish swim deeper, it is warmer and safer there. In the summer they want to go to shallow water so that they can reproduce,” he adds, according to AD.
Nijs says it’s a great way to connect residents with their aquatic neighbors, and notes that Van Heukelum’s idea was met with great excitement by the local municipality. The only question, why create a “doorbell” with a camera and a signal to Patrick instead of just installing a motion-activated sensor?
Van Heukelum explains, “Technically that is probably possible, but this is of course much more fun, ” he says. “I am already addicted to it myself and watch it every night. You suddenly see a large pike swimming by or a lobster. It would be nice if you could spot a rarer fish such as a bindweed or bleak. Or maybe an eel.”
If you’d like to join in on the latest fish-watching addiction (and possibly help with ringing the doorbell for some waiting fish!) you can watch the live stream here.
There is also a Video showing the doorbell in action (we’ve included the English translation below!)
Every spring thousands of fishes swim straight through the city of Utrecht. They go through the Oudegracht in search of a spot to lay eggs. They mainly do this in the dark. Other animals can’t see them at that time of day, so it is safer.
There is just one problem: the Weerdsluis doesn’t open often enough… We have thought of a solution. The fish doorbell!
There is an underwater camera near the Weerdsluis. You can watch the footage live at www.visdeurbel.nl. Do you see fish? Ring the fish doorbell. The lock-keeper gets a sign. If there are many fish lying in wait, he will open the gate.
Will you help fish get through the Oudegracht? Visit visdeurbel.nl
(Translated by Lara Dekker)