The release of Finding Nemo’s sequel has sparked fears history could repeat itself – and devastate global marine life.
The Disney/Pixar film, released in 2003, saw the population of clownfish dwindle and their habitats decimated as demand rocketed due to pestered parents rushing out to buy their children their very own Nemo.
And with the star of Finding Dory being a blue tang fish – which cannot be bred in captivity – experts have urged people not to buy them.
Jenn McDonough, manager at the Sealife Centre on Blackpool Prom, said: “The release of Finding Dory is likely to spur a massive demand for pet fish.
“After Finding Nemo, wild populations of clownfish dropped 90 per cent.
“Sealife puts huge importance on educating guests as to why they can’t have their own Dory at home. Blue tangs – like Dory – are extremely complex to look after and we advise only experts to keep them.”
Disney recognised the potential consequences of its new film, released in cinemas last week, and released education material advising the public that ‘blue tangs, like Dory, do not make good pets’.
The fish grow to be 12 inches long as adults and are difficult to care for. They need a tank the size of the average couch, with at least 180 gallons of water.
They can be found for sale in the UK online for as little as £31.50.
Rene Umberger, from For the Fishes, which created a free mobile phone app that allows users to see if fishes are wild caught and inappropriate as a pet, or captive bred, said: “We were already seeing a troublesome increase in the number of blue tangs offered for sale to unknowing consumers in preparation for the release of Finding Dory.”
And Nicholas Whipps, from the Centre for Biological Diversity added: “People can literally love these beautiful fish to death, and we don’t want to see that happen again.
“Films like this can prompt people to buy wild-caught fish for their aquariums and have major impacts on sensitive coral reef ecosystems.”