Carefully designed pieces of engineering over bodies of water might make our lives easier; however, that isn't to say marine animals agree with our choice of construction.
Fish swim through Utrecht, the Netherlands every spring to look for a place where they can reproduce. Unfortunately, they have to wait for extended periods of time at the Weerdsluis lock which is located on the west side of the inner city. The lock, built in the Middle Ages to maintain the water level in the canals, rarely opens in the spring months.
Now, organizations that are in charge of water management and quality in the Vecht and Utrecht’s canals, have come up with an interesting solution: An online "fish doorbell".
A highway for fish without the jam
Officially known as the visdeurbel, the solution brings regular citizens and fish together through the help of an underwater camera at the Weerdsluis. The camera films the fish as they try to get through the lock gate, which is a device that acts as a mediator between boats and water at different levels.
"You have to see the Oudegracht 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," explained Mark van Heukelum, underwater nature expert, to DutchReview.
The residents can watch the fish via a live stream and press a digital doorbell to alert the lock operator of fish jams. Then, the lock operator can check the camera and open the gate if a significant number of fish have gathered outside.
This is extremely important for fish migration since the "doorbell" allows them to start breeding much sooner. Moreover, staying in one place for a long time increases the possibility of them being killed by predators, such as grebes and cormorants. The lock, which seldom opened in spring, can now be opened on a daily basis if the need arises.
The Livestream is admittedly fun to watch and acts as an underwater Netflix, delivering a unique experience where the residents can feel more connected to underwater life. Not only fish, but also large pikes, lobsters, and basses, among many others, can be observed too.
Apparently, fish prefer to swim in the dark when migrating since it safer and there are fewer predators. The officials advise keeping an eye on the live stream when it is dark to keep your likelihood of spotting a fish higher.
You can see the system being used in the video down below.