I’m a child at heart. I listen to One Direction and wake up for Saturday morning cartoons. Now that I’ve taken zoology classes, I’ve taken it a step further and made the connection between my childhood animal cartoons and reality. What else am I going to do with my extensive knowledge of random trivia?

Pixar’s “Finding Nemo” is essentially the kid version of “Taken,” with a few minor differences. The animators at Pixar certainly did their research before production; many of the characters actually do stay true to their real-life species. However, there is one pretty significant instance of artistic license.

After the untimely death of Coral, Nemo’s mother, Marlin, his father, should have changed sex and become female. Sex changing is not uncommon among fish; when the population size becomes too biased toward a gender, some animals will change sexes. The genetic makeup is still retained, but its gametes, size and color change. Clownfish are protandrous: The male changes to a female to improve genetic fitness. This phenomenon is actually studied in protogynous bluehead wrasses by UCSB’s Bob Warner. Unlike many other fish, clownfish very rarely stray away from their homes in sea anemones, which they form symbiotic relationships with. Because they spend most of their lives in one spot, it would be difficult to find breeding partners if they were incapable of changing gender.

Additionally, presence of carbon dioxide encourages risky behavior in clownfish. It acts like alcohol on fish, leaving them less able to judge risk as well as prone to losing their senses. I’m sure many of us in I.V. can relate to this. Perhaps it was this combination of excess carbon dioxide and his lack of experience outside the anemone that explained Marlin’s manic behavior.


A version of this article appeared on page 5 of January 15th, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus.