Nemo at risk: Finding Nemo’s marine friends in trouble

© Natascia Tamburello

Author: Angela Pauly
Date: December 13, 2011



It’s no secret that Finding Nemo is one of my absolute favorite movies, and apparently, I’m not alone in this. Finding Nemo was the second highest grossing movie in 2003, right behind The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (another favorite of mine…but I digress).

So it was quite upsetting when I woke up this morning to the news that 16 percent of the awesome creatures in Finding Nemo are facing the threat of extinction. What’s worse, is that it seems that the success of the film itself is one of the many reasons behind the heavy overfishing of clownfish to fulfill the demand from Nemo lovers rushing to fill their salt water aquariums with their own adorable orange and white fish.

This morning’s Washington Post article brings up an interesting point about the complex relationship between humans and marine species, one that doesn’t seem to apply to terrestrial animals. Boris Worm, a marine biologist at Canada’s Dalhousie University, puts it best: “When people see a beautiful film about tigers, they don’t go out and shoot a tiger. They don’t go out and purchase a tiger,” Worm said in an interview. “In the case of things in the ocean, they think, ‘I care about them, so I’d like to have them,’ or, ‘I care about them, that’s why I’d like to fish them.’ ”

Clownfish and their coral reef homes aren’t the only ones in trouble either. Sea turtles are facing greater threat both from the destruction of their nesting areas and from getting caught and killed as bycatch in commercial fishing gear. Meanwhile, 73 Million sharks are killed each year to satisfy the demand for their fins, add to that the millions caught and killed for their meat and as bycatch, and many of these majestic species are in serious danger.  

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a future wherein the marine animals and habitats in Finding Nemo are nothing but a memory of a time when the world’s oceans were rich in diverse life.