Most of us are always looking for easy ways we can make the world a better place — and lucky for us, fish migration season has brought a unique opportunity to do just that.
It’s called the vis deurbel — “fish doorbell” in Dutch — and it’s a website featuring a livestream camera that keeps migrating fish in the rivers and canals in Utrecht from being captured by predators.
Volunteer viewers can watch the fish doorbell livestream from anywhere in the world, and when they spot a fish (or many!), send a dam lock keeper a signal that there are fish waiting to swim through, helping to guide them on their journey.
If you log onto the site this week, you may find a number of other aquatic attendants watching the stream with you, thanks to a video made by TikTok user (and Stanford footballer) Thunder Keck.
Thunder has an ongoing series of “useful websites,” where he has introduced his over 700,000 followers to a website that delivers lasagnas to people in need of food, or a website that shows how healthcare providers get money from pharmaceutical companies.
But this time? He is teaching thousands how to help migrating fish in the Netherlands.
So, how does this doorbell actually help?
During migration season, a number of fish species — like pike, perch, bindweed, rudd, alver, and eels — use waterways in the Netherlands to swim upstream. They help the entire ecosystem in the process, by eating aquatic insects and helping maintain good water quality.
Because of their vital role in the waters of the Vecht and the Kromme Rijn, the city of Utrecht and an organization called Hoogheemraadschap De Stichtse Rijnlanden do their part to make it easier for the fish to find a safe place to lay eggs and reproduce each season.
Part of this entails helping the fish pass through dams and pumping stations — but in the depths of the waters, it can be hard to spot migrating fish, and predators often get to them first. That’s where the fish doorbell comes in!
By giving these fish a helping hand — or helping fin — Utrecht residents, and wildlife enthusiasts around the world, can keep these swimmers from danger and protect waterways all at the same time.
While this may be more of a niche website to visit, it really puts more good into the world! Last year, over 10,000 fish were let through the dam, thanks to the help of community members who rang the doorbell.
And with Thunder’s latest TikTok, hopefully even more fish will find their way to freedom.
“Well, that’s me not getting any work done today now,” one commenter wrote. “I have a far more important job to do.”
For those who are eager to spot their own fish friends, the website provides three tips:
- Most fish are active in the morning, evening, or at dusk
- The fish migration really gets going in mid-April
- Special species come out at night — if you’re lucky
And if you’re short on time? Check out the collection of the “cutest fish pictures” from other vis deurbel door keepers.