Saving Nemo? Clownfish Could End Up on Endangered Species List

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GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP/ Getty Images

Anemonefish, also known as common clownfish, swim in the aquarium of the Pacific complex in Long Beach, California.

Sadly, this isn’t just another promo for Finding Nemo 3D.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition with the National Marine Fisheries Service to protect clownfish — and seven other coral reef-dwelling species — under the Endangered Species Act, the Los Angeles Times reports. But before you start shedding tears for Nemo and his buddies, keep in mind that this request isn’t based on any evidence of a decline in the clownfish population. Instead, what has sparked concern is the deteriorating health of coral reefs as a result of climate change and growing ocean acidity.

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“As we continue to emit greenhouse gas pollution, we are seeing more and more animals and plants in the U.S. and around the world that are in danger from climate change,” Shaye Wolf, the climate science director for the Arizona-based organization that filed the petition, told the McClatchy Company. “This case is important because not a lot of people understand how much the ocean is being harmed by carbon pollution.”

A critical element of the Endangered Species Act is protecting species’ natural habitats as opposed to merely protecting their populations. Take, for example, the polar bear, which earned a spot on the endangered species list in 2008 despite a recent uptick in the animal’s population. The U.S. Department of the Interior cited the receding ice of the Arctic sea as reason to declare the species “threatened,” TIME reported that May.

And so, similarly, a projected long-term threat to the clownfish’s habitat has prompted environmentalists to begin seeking protection now. Above all, this threat is troubling because who wants to live in a world where we’ll no longer see Nemo swimming out to sea?

MORE: Celebrate World Oceans Day as a Virtual Fish 

2 comments
beansngravy
beansngravy

So what.... I don´t care about the environment just as long as it doesn't interfere with my daily 50 piece order of buffalo chicken wings!

rdfInOP
rdfInOP

In my humble opinion, the climate change folks chose the wrong manifestation.  Global warming is real but there are too many ways to wiggle out from the blame.  The acidification of our oceans is both real and undeniably caused by the burning of fossil fuels.