Fish of 'Finding Nemo' Fame May Soon be Found No More

© Leszek.Leszczynski

Pixar's wildly popular animated film 'Finding Nemo' garnered near universal praise from fans and critics, earned numerous awards and accolades for its stars, and netted parent company Walt Disney Pictures over $860 million in box office revenue -- the real losers, it turns out, are the real-life fish it portrayed.

According to a new study which examined the extinction risk of the marine animals of 'Nemo' found that one in six species depicted in the film's animated aquatic setting run the risk of meeting a most un-Disney sort of end.

Researchers from Simon Fraser University and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) report that while the health of Earth's ocean ecosystems are in decline, even the most charismatic, memorable marine species are feeling the pinch -- and partially because they're popular. As species rise to public awareness through media, like the fish-rich 'Finding Nemo', it's often a boon to conservation efforts. But sometimes, say researchers, it has the opposite effect.

“Putting Nemo in office aquariums, making soup out of the shark Anchor’s fins, and selling Sheldon the seahorse as curios has taken a toll,” says study co-author Loren McClenachan. “Our research highlights how very little we know about many of these animals. It’s unthinkable that the characters in Finding Nemo could become extinct, but this is the reality unless we pay more attention to the diversity of marine life.”

Although real-life members of the film's namesake's species, clownfish, aren't at particular risk of extinction, experts say that 18 percent of its relative species are. Following the 2003 release of 'Finding Nemo', the aquarium trade saw a spike in coral reef fish demand.

All told, the study concluded that as much as 16 percent of Nemo's undersea neighbors are threatened with extinction.

Tags: Fish | Oceans

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