Dutch Citizens Use ‘Doorbell’ to Give Fish Their Freedom

Every living creature needs a little help sometimes, including fish. Sometimes they have to be rescued from nets. Or, thanks to littering, they have to be freed from a piece of trash. But, a group of humans are helping fish in a completely novel way: by using a “fish doorbell” to help their safe and swift travels. This story, which we learned about via New Atlas, is the “humans doing good” post you probably need today.

In the Dutch city of Utrecht, fish were having a tough time getting through a canal. The structure’s Weerdsluis lock, which doesn’t open really often in the spring. This causes a conundrum for the poor fish who just want to live their lives in a watery world. You know, typical fish behavior like eating, swimming, and trying to not die.

a photo of five animated fish on the left side in water. the right side is red and has the words ding dong on it with a button that is a fish doorbell

Gemeente Utrecht/ YouTube

Now, there’s a “fish doorbell” system in place for citizens to stay on the alert for a fish traffic jam. This project is a collaboration between the Municipality of Utrecht, the Water Board Hoogheemraadschap De Stichtse Rijnlanden, and the Regional Public Water Authority Amstel, Gooi and Vecht.

The visdeurbel system uses an underwater camera with Internet connection to monitor an area close to the lock. Every day citizens can download and app and take a real-time look at what’s going on 24/7.

They can notify a lock operator and ring the proverbial “doorbell” if there’s a crowd gathering near the gate. The operator then looks to confirm it and, if there is truly a large amount, they can open the gate and give the fish their freedom. Therefore, they can go on and live their mildly chaotic lives. Various types of fish pass through so there are undoubtedly some predators looking for a swift snack come up.

A video explaining the app isn’t in English but it’s still quite cool to watch. And, anything that makes the world seem a bit kinder and empathetic is a good look in our book.

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