ByJonathan Carlin, writer at
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Jonathan Carlin

We all know and love Finding Nemo, the touching tale of a clownfish searching the ocean, fighting off sharks, angler fish and jelly fish, all to rescue his son from the worst kind of doctor.. a dentist.

Seriously when people say they enjoy going to the dentist…… I don’t believe you.

Finding Nemo is praised for it's (although cartoony) mostly accurate portrayal of underwater sea life. Except for one thing.. that makes the whole movie a LIE.

For the full story you can watch the video above, or read the rest of the article below!

At the start we meet Marlin and Coral setting up shop at the drop off and for the first minute, it's pretty accurate. Clown fish do nest in anemones in a symbiotic relationship.

Marlin and Coral at the DROP OFF!
Marlin and Coral at the DROP OFF!

Anemones actually have poisonous tentacles they use to kill and eat most things that swim near enough. Clown fish are immune to this effect so the anemone acts as great protection for the clown fish while the clown fish helps lure in other prey for the anemone. Everybody wins.

Unless you don’t go back inside when a barracuda shows up. Then you get eaten by a barracuda.

Which is of course what happens- but we will come back to that.

Marlin and Coral watching over their eggs.
Marlin and Coral watching over their eggs.

Before Coral's unnecessary death, we see her and Marlin watching over their soon-to-be-offspring and discussing names. Marlin says let's name this half Coral Jr. and this half Marlin Jr.

Notice how he doesn’t say, we’ll name all the girls Coral Jr. and all the boys Marlin Jr.- he just motions to one half each. Which you might think doesn’t make sense: how can he decide on their names before he knows their genders?

Maybe you just assume he means the boys and girls will get the appropriate names, but actually his initial statement makes the most biological sense, because clownfish are actually born with an undifferentiated gender.

Social order actually determines whether they become male or female, and here’s where it gets crazy… they can actually end up switching from one to the other.

Clownfish are what is known in nature as a sequential hermaphrodites. Meaning in any given school of clown fish, there is actually only one male and one female and the rest are undifferentiated. The largest fish will become what is known as the Dominant Female and the second largest will become the Non-dominant Male.

Should something happen to the Dominant Female, like say they don’t go back to the anemone when a barracuda shows up and they get eaten...

Barracuda > Clownfish
Barracuda > Clownfish

... Then the Non-dominant Male is left as the new biggest fish in the school, at which point he changes genders and become the new Dominant Female. Accordingly the next biggest clown fish in the school will ascend from undifferentiated, to Non-dominant Male.

So, if you are keeping score at home you may be coming to a startling conclusion about Finding Nemo right about now...

Marlin should've been... MARLENE?! Yes. if the movie was really accurate after Coral died, (because she didn’t go back in the anemone… and got eaten... by a barracuda) , MARLIN should have shifted genders and become female! Under these circumstances, Nemo would still be male.. but would also be the new mating partner for the Dominant Female soooooooo.... yea.

Actually maybe Pixar did make the correct decision in lying to us, because Finding Nemo is just awesome and I can’t wait for Finding Dory.. ugh is it June yet??

Finding Dory hits trailers on June 16th! Click here for our full Finding Dory Trailer Review!

Who is your favorite character from Finding Nemo that you hope comes back in Finding Dory??


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