Discussion of the 2003 film Finding Nemo, directed by Andrew Stanton. Featuring guests Ayesha and Rosie.

You may want to watch the film first and think about:

  • How do parents in the movie deal with risk?

What the film did well

Diversity of life and habitat

  • Huge range of animal-life accurately rendered and animated
  • Journey takes viewers through many ocean habitats populated with mostly appropriate types and amounts of animal life
  • One of Nemo’s classmates is a dumbo squid which, in reality, lives in the deep sea

Highlighting problem of collecting wildlife for aquarium trade

  • Taking Nemo from the reef and his family
  • Gill’s trauma in being taken from the ocean and failed attempts to escape
  • Didn’t address how this can impact whole ecosystems and continued pressure can harm survival of species

TMilitz, TA and Foale, S. The “Nemo Effect”: Perception and reality of Finding Nemo ‘s impact on the marine aquarium fisheries. Fish Fish. 2017; 18: 596– 606. doi: 10.1111/faf.12202.

Positive depiction of sharks (mostly)

Approaches to managing risk

  • Marlin reacts to risk by always intervening to protect Nemo. Marlin always highlights Nemo’s weaknesses as reasons to be cautious and avoid all risks. Eventually Nemo rebels against this and does something much more dangerous that he may otherwise have done.
  • Crush, the green turtle, reacts to Squirt falling out of the EAC by observing how Squirt reacts and provides encouragement. We can imagine that he would have intervened if Squirt had been in real trouble. This seems to help Squirt become confident and capable.
  • Dory’s doesn’t evaluate risk, just trusts that everything will be fine. Perhaps because her memory problems means she doesn’t remember risky situations and so can’t learn from them.

What the film missed the mark on

Captive animals often cannot be released into the wild

  • May not be able to fend for themselves or cope with water chemistry and pathogens
  • Releasing pets into the wild may lead to being released into inappropriate habitats
  • Release of pets has led to problems with invasive species

Water quality and pollution

  • We can see differences in water quality as Marlin and Dory get closer to Sydney, but characters don’t react to it. Differences could have been emphasized more with comments about smell or a cough.
  • We imagine a remake of the film would highlight plastic pollution

Recommendations

Films: Finding Dory (2016)

Get outside

Look for fish in streams and ponds. Sticklebacks have wonderful behaviour in late spring/early summer, clearing off a patch at the bottom for females to lay their eggs. Watch them protect their patch from rival fish.

Visit the seaside and go rock pooling!

Don’t keep saltwater fish as pets (without being prepared)

Marine aquariums are very difficult and expensive to keep. Many require considerable investment in equipment and careful monitoring of water quality. These are not goldfish.

If you do want to undertake the challenge, opt for captive bred fish if at all possible. This will reduce the pressure on wild populations.

Aquariums

Send in your questions and comments!

Email: knowingnaturepodcast@gmail.com

Twitter: @kn_podcast

Intro/Outro music: Selfish by Derek Clegg. Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 US License

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