'Finding Dory,’ the sequel to the very popular ‘Finding Nemo,’ hits theaters this weekend. Lots of fans of the first movie are excited. For some scientists, it’s a different story entirely.
Dory is a pacific blue tang fish, and just like sales of clownfish skyrocketed after the first movie, pet stores are anticipating demand for the pacific blue tang. That demand, however, could have serious consequences for a fish that can’t be breed in captivity.
“They actually perform a really important service for these coral reefs. Corals are defined by these coral animals and the algae that live inside of them. These blue tangs prevent other algae from growing over the coral and blocking out the light. If there were suddenly a world deprived of these blue tangs, the reefs would pretty quickly be overgrown by algae and could die, become bleached. It could pretty easily topple the entire reef ecosystem,” says Jason Goldman, a science journalist based in Los Angeles.
During this Talk of Iowa conversation, host Charity Nebbe talks with Goldman about how animals are portrayed on screen and the very real impacts those characters can have in real life. Mick McAuliffe, animal services manager for the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, also joins the conversation.
McAuliffe says that it's pretty common for children to want pets that are the same species as those they see on screen. After 101 Dalmatians came out, shelters were flooded with surrendered dalmatians. He says when children ask for pets, it's important to be realistic about expectations for care, especially when it comes to exotic pets, like fish, birds or turtles.
"It’s great that children are interested. That’s an education opportunity," McAuliffe says. "So, we can sit down together and learn about where they come from. It’s a fantastic opportunity for younger generations to learn, and learn the right way."