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  Life   More Features  17 Aug 2019  Nemo Effect stemming from Finding Nemo declared untrue

Nemo Effect stemming from Finding Nemo declared untrue

Published : Aug 17, 2019, 7:11 pm IST
Updated : Aug 17, 2019, 7:11 pm IST

Researchers have said that the theory lacks adequate evidence.

Sea pollution is a major threat to the survival of clown fish. (Photo: Representational/Pixabay)
 Sea pollution is a major threat to the survival of clown fish. (Photo: Representational/Pixabay)

In 2003, there were several claims about people running out to buy clownfish as a pet after watching Finding Nemo. However, experts have analysed this, and debunked the claims, saying that they are unfounded. The claims got escalated to a level where Ellen De DeGeneres, a popular talk show personality, who voiced Dory, appealed to her viewers to not buy these creatures. There’d been an outcry over animals featured in other movies as well, like Harry Potter, Zootopia and Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles.

Experts from Oxford University decided to examine the state of clown fish after becoming aware of people’s fears that they were being extensively bought. This has been called the Nemo Effect, owing its name to the 2003 blockbuster film.

To the relief of many, scientists stated that the opposite is true, and the Effect is all hype. They further pointed that these movies have brought species portrayed in movies to the limelight, raising awareness about them.

Their study involved examining Google Trends, purchase patterns of the fish from a major US importer, and data from 20 aquariums across the nation. The complete findings were published in the journal Ambio.

Lead researcher Diogo Veríssimo said, “We think these narratives are so compelling because they are based on a clear causal link that is plausible, relating to events that are high profile - Finding Dory was one of the highest grossing animated movies in history.

“My research looks at demand for wildlife in multiple contexts. As such I was intrigued as to whether the connection between these blockbusters and demand for wildlife was as straight-forward as had been described in the media.

“My experience is that human behaviour is hard to influence, particularly at scale, and it seemed unlikely that movies like Finding Nemo, Finding Dory and the Harry Potter series indeed generated spikes in demand for the species they feature,” he added.

While it’s difficult to trace how the Nemo Effect originated, a research revealed that press articles published after the movie’s release across UK, USA and Australia could have triggered the people to believe in massive sale of the clown fish. These were echoed by various other media outlets across the globe.

Veríssimo further said, “Our results suggest that the impact of movies is limited when it comes to the large-scale buying of animals. There is, however, a clear effect in terms of information-seeking which means that the media does play an important role in making wildlife and nature conservation more salient. This is particularly the case for animation movies which are viewed by a much more diverse group of people than, for example, nature documentaries.”

Tags: fish, finding nemo