Why Marine Biologists Aren't Happy With Finding Dory

Pixar fans were introduced to Ellen Degeneres’ Dory, the energetic and forgetful Pacific regal blue tang, in Finding Nemo, and 13 years after that release, she’s leading her own movie, Finding Dory. When Finding Nemo enjoyed enormous success, that resulted in many pleased moviegoers going out to buy their own clownfish. Now that Finding Dory is almost here, it’s expected that the blue tang will be the new popular fish to buy, but that isn’t a good thing, according to marine biologists.

While clownfish are easy to breed in captivity, Hakai Magazine noted that blue tangs don’t survive well in aquariums. It’s estimated that between 20-24 million ocean animals are sold to around 2 million homes from pet stores and other distributors. Of that total, approximately 300,000 blue tangs are “traded globally,” though it’s difficult to pin down an exact number. Regardless, the blue tang lives in fragile coral reef environments, but because the efforts to capture these fish and others either lack regulation or are environmentally unfriendly, the results can be destructive. There have been attempts to safely breed blue tangs and other ornamental fish outside their natural environments, but so far they haven’t gone as well as expected.

What we can take away from all this is that if folks flock to buy blue tang after seeing Finding Dory just like what happened with clownfish after Finding Nemo, that means demand will go up. When that happens, collectors will double their efforts to obtain more blue tangs, and that will inevitably lead to their coral reefs habitats in the Coral Triangle (located near Indonesia and the Philippines) being harmed. Researchers and official breeders are well aware that the deadline is nearing on Finding Dory’s release, but they still haven’t reached that breakthrough moment for increasing the odds of survival among blue tangs in captivity. So if you enjoy Finding Dory next month and find yourself desiring a blue tang, think twice about buying one of them from your local pet store or elsewhere.

Taking place six months after Finding Nemo, Finding Dory will follow the eponymous protagonist as she journeys with Nemo and Marlin to find the family she forgot she had (her mother, Jenny, voiced by Diane Keaton and her father, Charlie, voiced by Eugene Levy). This adventure will eventually take her to the Marine Life Institute in California. During the movie, they’ll meet new aquatic friends, like Bailey the beluga whale (voiced by Ty Burrell), Destiny the whale shark (voiced by Kaitlin Olson), Hank the seven-tentacled octopus (voiced by Ed O’Neill) and more. Other returning characters include Gil the morrish idol, Deb the starfish, Mr. Ray the spotted eagle ray and Crush the sea turtle.

Finding Dory hits theaters on June 17.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.