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‘Finding Dory’ has Scientists Worried Over Further Decline of Wild Clownfish Population, Endangered Marine Ecosystem

'Pixar And Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Upcoming Films' Presentation At Disney's D23 EXPO 2015

(Photo : Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney) (L-R) Actors Ed O'Neill, Ty Burrell, Kaitlin Olson and Ellen DeGeneres of FINDING DORY took part today in 'Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Upcoming Films' presentation at Disney's D23 EXPO 2015 in Anaheim, Calif.

'Finding Dory' has highlighted a serious concern among scientists with regards to the possible further decline of the wild clownfish population as well as the regal blue tangs. The imminent popularity of the upcoming film may increase the demand for ornamental fish as pets as evidenced by events following the release of its predecessor in 2003.

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According to Cinema Blend, scientists are concerned about the implications of the much-awaited 3D animated film featuring the forgetful yet lovable regal blue tang Dory voiced by Ellen DeGeneres. The preceding film 'Finding Nemo' saw a sharp increase in demand for wild clownfish, and marine biologists now fear that 'Finding Dory' will follow raise demand for regal blue tangs.

The release of 'Finding Nemo' in 2003 found people clamoring to purchase their own "Nemo" thereby contributing to the rapid decline of the ornamental marine species. Researchers from the University of Queensland and Adelaide's Flinders University created The Saving Nemo Conservation Fund to prevent the extermination of clownfish from the wild.

Anita Nedosyko, marine biologist and founder of the conservation fund, expressed her shock over the massive demand for the clownfish upon the original film's release. 

"There was a 30 per cent increase and the concern for us is that we are going to start seeing a resurgence in popularity for that population with not just clownfish but also 'Dory,' the regal blue tang," she said.

The scientist noted that just under half of the clownfish sold at aquariums come from the wild - specifically from their natural habitat in the Great Barrier Reef, Indonesia, the Philippines and other areas in Southeast Asia.

"In places like south-east Asia where it isn't managed well they use destructive practices, they use cyanide, it stuns the fish, it makes it easier to catch them... There has been some documentation of places where they once found clownfish where they can't find them anymore, the numbers in the wild are reducing," Nedosyko warned.

According to Brisbane Times, the increased demand for the species put even greater stress on their already deteriorating coral reef ecosystem. Nedosyko and her team are focusing on clownfish breeding programs as well as public information dissemination.

However, another challenge seems imminent with regards to breeding regal blue tangs in a nursery. Clownfish may be easily bred in captivity, but blue tangs are not as easy to deal with.

"The regal blue tang are more susceptible to having their numbers reduced from the release of the movie... They are fully taken from the wild, there are no captive breeding programs... They are very vulnerable in aquarium environments as well because of their environment, they need algae and that is not easy to replicate with fish pellets and are prone to disease," Nedosyko said.

'Finding Dory' is an upcoming animated adventure-comedy film directed by Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane. It is scheduled to premiere in theaters on June 17, 2016.

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