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Demand for 'Nemo' puts clown fish in danger of extinction

July 1, 2008 | 12:32 pm

Nemo_is_getting_harder_and_harder_t Clown fish have surged in popularity as pets ever since the movie "Finding Nemo" came out in 2003. But the over-harvesting of wild clown fish to feed the pet trade has depleted the population so dramatically that marine biologists say the fish are now facing extinction. The London Times reports:

The lovable tropical species, immortalized in the smash Pixar movie "Finding Nemo," is facing extinction in many parts of the world because of soaring demand from the pet trade, according to marine biologists.

Parents whose children fell in love with Nemo at the cinema are seeking out the clown fish in ever greater numbers, leading to over-harvesting of wild specimens because captive breeding programs cannot cope with demand.

Dr. Billy Sinclair, of the University of Cumbria, who has been studying clown fish populations for five years, says the species should now be listed as endangered.

Studies of clown fish on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef have revealed a dramatic population decline since the release of the movie in 2003. Shoals that used to number dozens of clown fish have dwindled to just a few specimens, leaving them with difficulty breeding, Sinclair says.

Since it looks like Nemo and the likes will be even harder to find in the wild, you can see one in person at the Aquarium of the Pacific. The clown fish is also included in a Times photo gallery titled "10 critters that hate the movies."

-- Tony Barboza

Photo: Stephen Chernin / Getty Images

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