How ‘Finding Dory’ could spell trouble for the real-life ‘Dory’ fish

  • 2003 animated movie Finding Nemo brought an estimated 40% surge in clownfish sales
  • Conservationists are concerned the sequel Finding Dory will lead to the increase of demand for blue tangs
  • Blue tangs cannot be bred in captivity and are exclusively taken from the wild

When Finding Nemo came out in 2003, clownfish sales skyrocketed to an estimated 40% as fans of the movie somehow missed the message of the film that fish don’t want to live in tanks and don’t like being stolen from the ocean. Scientists fear that the movie’s sequel, Finding Dory, may bring about the same phenomenon.

By 2012, the orange and white stripped fish were among the most imported species in the United States. In the process, ecologists say wild populations of clownfish in countries such as the Philippines were decimated, as per an article published by Variety.

This year, Finding Dory is inspiring a wave of interest in a new, more expensive breed: The blue tang. While the sequel’s success is great news for the animation studios Pixar and Disney, such could not be the case for animal welfare and conservation groups as the increase of demand for blue tangs could put the population of the species at risk.

Animal rights groups Humane Society and For the Fishes are discouraging people from buying blue tangs because unlike clownfish, blue tangs cannot be bred in captivity and are exclusively taken from the wild.

“This species cannot endure increased demand,” said Rene Umberger; executive director of For the Fishes. “It’s already in decline in the wild.”

The blue tang can reach up to a foot in length making them too big to fit comfortably in home aquariums.

For its part, Disney,  as per an article published by Bustle, issued a guide for “responsible fish ownership” which include information on the best type of fish to house in an aquarium, and how to protect and conserve ocean fish.

The company is also working on a program with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to support blue tang conservation and sustainability.