I am here on behalf of the Blue Tang fish of the world, to kindly ask you to resist the urge to run out and buy one after you have taken the kids to see Finding Dory next week. Please don’t buy Dory!
Animals take such a hard hit every time humans indulge whims and impulses to own them. Most animals shelters will not allow black cats to be adopted around Halloween out of concern that the cats will not properly be cared for or wind up back at the shelter a day after the party is over. Bunny rabbits and baby ducks and chicks get adopted for Easter by families living where animals that are considered livestock are not permitted.
A similar thing happened to the clownfish and it nearly decimated the world’s population.
Did you know that when Finding Nemo hit the big screen in 2003, in a twist of irony against the movie’s plot, people ran out in droves to buy clownfish for their kids? What they didn’t know was that 90% of the clown fish that were sold were caught in the wild. Even now, over 1 million clown fish a year are taken out of the ocean to wind up in fishtanks around the world.
But that’s only part of the story. What happens to them when they get home?
I think people assumed that because of their orange color, clownfish are simply striped goldfish. Goldfish are freshwater fish and are fairly adaptable to changes in their environment. Clownfish are a saltwater fish and saltwater tanks require a LOT of regular attention. Saltwater fish are very sensitive to proper salination, water temperatures, and oxygen levels. You need the right plants, the right companion fish – all fish don’t get along with all other fish, after all – and the tank must be kept clean. With all of those variables, saltwater tanks can be time consuming and can get very expensive quickly. And I think it’s hard for people to make the same connection to fish that they do to furry animals. While most fish actually have personalities – clownfish, for example, are curious, almost friendly, approaching the glass when you’re standing in front of it to watch you watch them – the fact remains that they will never cuddle with you or keep your feet warm. Well-intentioned families didn’t realize how hard it would be to take care of Nemo and, unfortunately, many, many Nemos paid the price.
Dory, the blue tang fish, will need the same care.
While breeders were able to rebalance the clown fish population and keep up with the demand for them in the years that followed by successfully breeding them in captivity, that is not the case for the blue tang. The only place the blue tang has successfully bred is in its natural habitat. That means if you buy one, it will come from the ocean.
It’s ironic to me that the the whole point of these movies has been missed. Let the beautiful creatures of the world live their lives in their natural environment.There is a balance to the world that we, as humans, so often throw off. The world is a beautiful, amazing, fascinating place when all the creatures that live in it get to roam freely. The coral reefs of the world sparkle with the colors of all the beautiful fish that live there. I’ve seen them in person, and they’re incredible. There is a natural order there that we should be able to enjoy and appreciate without having to own or destroy. We want the Dorys and Nemos of the sea to live their natural lives on the reef, don’t we?
If you really want to show your love for Dory and Nemo, consider supporting SavingNemo.org, an organization that was created when the clown fish populations were decimated, that seeks to protect all exotic fish from overfishing and extinction.
So, don’t be a Darla! Leave Dory in the ocean!
Like what you read here? Share it with your friends and family! Share it on Facebook!
Namaste, Dr. Marissa