The FISH DOORBELL internet users can ‘ring’ to help marine life along on their migration journey (and it’s made a huge splash on the internet)
- An underwater camera has been installed at the Weerdsluis lock in Utrecht
- Internet users watch fish approach it on live webcam footage
- They can press a digital ‘bell’ to request the lock is opened to let them through
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Sometimes surfing the net can take you to fascinating plaices.
A ‘fish doorbell’ website is taking the internet by storm, with more than eight million internet users checking out the site this year alone.
What’s the hook? The site live streams footage from an underwater webcam at the Weerdsluis lock in the Dutch city of Utrecht’s canal system.
When fish appear before the camera, internet users can press a digital ‘doorbell’ that alerts the lock operator, who can then open the lock, letting the fish through the sluice gate.
The doorbell operates from March to June each year, when fish are migrating from deep rivers and canals to shallow streams and ditches as part of their reproductive cycle. This year, internet users rang the bell over 105,000 times to help many thousands of fish through the lock.
The digital ‘fish doorbell’ allows internet users to help fish pass through a lock in the Netherlands
The ‘fish doorbell’ site live streams footage from an underwater webcam at the Weerdsluis lock in the city of Utrecht
The introduction of the doorbell, which was launched in 2021, means that fish don’t have to wait as long as they once did for the lock to open, making them less vulnerable to getting eaten by herons and cormorants.
The website notes: ‘Fish are an important part of the water in Utrecht… they eat water insects and help maintain good water quality. That’s why we help fish on their annual migration to a good place to lay eggs and reproduce.’
Internet users can also track how many fish species pass the lock. This year, perch and bream were the most commonly spotted fish, it’s revealed, while more unusual fish species such as catfish and eels were also sighted.
A sign at the Weerdsluis lock offers information about the initiative. The introduction of the fish doorbell means that fish are less vulnerable to getting eaten by herons and cormorants
When fish appear before the camera, internet users can press a digital ‘doorbell’ (above) that will alert the lock operator
When the lock operator (above) is alerted by the fish doorbell, he can then open the lock, letting the fish through the sluice gate
A guide on the ‘fish doorbell’ website illustrates the fish species that might be spotted
The site features a gallery of the ‘cutest fish photos’ that have been captured by internet users via the webcam.
The majority of the site’s users are from Germany and the U.S, but there are also many from the Netherlands, Britain, Austria, Switzerland and Canada.
Sharing their enthusiasm for the doorbell, Twitter user ‘DustOnBothSides’ wrote: ‘I just rang the fish doorbell for a pike. Exciting!’
And user ‘ryan-cw’ said: ‘Having the time of my life operating the fish doorbell.’ While Dr Laurence Datrier wrote: ‘Just saw two fish on the fish doorbell website, what a thrill.’
This year, the fish that most commonly passed through the lock (above) were perch and bream
The ‘fish doorbell’ website features a gallery of the ‘cutest fish photos’ that have been captured by internet users
Earlier this year, a stone from Utrecht’s 14th-century Dom Tower was placed in the water, in front of the camera, and it has proven a hit with the fish that approach the lock, giving them a place to hide and feed.
Linda Voortman, a politician for the Netherlands’ Green party, explained: ‘It was fascinating to see the positive effect the one stone had underwater… we are really expanding the habitat of fish in our waters by adding more relief and structure underwater. The more protrusions and aquatic plants in the water, the more hiding and feeding places for fish.’
Commenting on the doorbell, Voortman said: ‘It is hugely popular internationally. That shows how much people enjoy the fish doorbell, but also how important it is. It is a wonderful initiative to increase knowledge about nature under water and in the city.
‘It is great that so many people are enthusiastic about it. It is important that animals can move freely through Utrecht. And a good and green environment also contributes to a pleasant and healthy living environment for people.’
The doorbell also helps to educate local schoolchildren about Holland’s aquatic life. This spring, primary-school-age children were invited to the lock to learn about the doorbell initiative, which is a collaborative project of the Municipality of Utrecht, the ‘De Stichtse Rijnlanden’ water board and environmental services firm Oak Consultants.
Want to press the doorbell for yourself? It’ll return on March 1, 2024. Visit visdeurbel.nl.
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