The long-awaited sequel to the hit film "Finding Nemo" was finally released on box office last week. With the animated film now focusing on the adorably forgetful blue tang fish, "Finding Dory" is set to make tropical fish popular again.
And this is where scientists and environmentalists begin to worry.
While such films increase awareness about the diversity of marine life, many people are also triggered to buy these wild fish to have as pets.
Similar to what happened after the success of the "Finding Nemo" film, the release of the new Pixar movie is seen to boost the demand for species of Dory and Nemo--clownfish and blue tang--for aquariums. The problem is these fish are usually caught from open seas using cyanide, according to recent research.
Craig Downs of the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory in Virginia said the popularity of "Finding Nemo" has resulted to more than a million clownfish caught from reefs, as per Phys.org.
Downs said one of the most common ways to capture these fish is through cyanide poisoning.
Millions poisoned, reefs destroyed
The Center for Biological Diversity and For the Fishes discovered that 6 million tropical fish imported in the United States each year as pets have been exposed to cyanide.
The new report titled "Poisoned Waters" revealed that cyanide poisoning happens in places like the Philippines and Indonesia that supply the fish for U.S. aquariums.
In cyanide fishing, crushed cyanide tablets are dissolved with sea water and sprayed directly to the reef to stun the targeted fish. The study revealed that nearly 50 percent of all nearby fish, as well as the corals, are killed immediately.
This fishing method is an easy, but incredibly deadly and dangerous for our environment. According to WWF, cyanide kills coral polyps and algae. The poison transforms the once-booming marine ecosystems to marine deserts, as a square meter of reef gets killed for every live fish captured using this method.
And with the reefs gone, the population of fish will dwindle, too.
What we can do
Several groups have reportedly petitioned to President Barack Obama to prevent the import of fish caught using cyanide. Countries that practice cyanide fishing have already banned the method, but do little to curb the destructive act.
Studies revealed that blue tangs cannot be bred in captivity, so all the Dories sold are captured from open seas and forced to live in small home tanks, which provide very small spaces for them to roam around.
While "Finding Nemo" and "Finding Dory" are educational films showing us the beauty of our environment, it should also serve as a reminder for us to take care of our oceans and leave wild animals, such as Dory, Nemo and Merlin, in their right homes--the wide, open ocean.
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