So, we’ve all heard of Finding Nemo… Each year millions of ornamental fish are taken from reefs globally to be kept in aquariums as pets, with 90% of fish sold in this trade coming from the wild. And now an Australian conservation organisation is going to save him!
Saving Nemo began in 2007 as a clownfish breeding program at Flinders University and has since grown to be an educational program and research project. Saving Nemo raises awareness for the plight of aquarium fish species – including Nemo and Dory – as well as invertebrates – like anemones and corals.
Conservation aquaculture, or the sustainable breeding of clownfish, is a welcomed alternative to the wild harvesting of ornamental fish for the aquarium trade. Each year millions of ornamental fish are taken from reefs globally to be kept in aquariums as pets, with 90% of fish sold in this trade coming from the wild. On some reefs this is causing population decline of up to 75% and can lead to localised extinction in some areas. This is where Saving Nemo comes in - our breeding program produces clownfish to be sold to local pet stores reducing the need for clownfish to be taken from the wild. In the future Saving Nemo aims for all fish sold through the aquarium trade to come from breeding programs allowing fish to swim free on the reef without the threat of being harvested.
Photos: Cassie Hoepner
The organisation also facilitates educational classes for around one thousand students each year, teaching them about the impacts of climate change, the plight of clownfish in the wild and hypothesis testing. Saving Nemo also runs a school-based breeding program, the Clownfish Club. This school based program aims to expand conservation based education into the classroom through hands on learning by incorporating clownfish tanks into schools.
Through ties with Flinders University, Saving Nemo has a team of Honours, Ph.D. and Post Doc researchers answering a range of questions surrounding the symbiosis between clownfish and anemones and the looming impact of climate change.