More than 100,000 people have signed a petition urging Disney to take action towards the protection of the "Dory fish". The calls come as wildlife campaigners expressed fears over the impact the Finding Dory movie will have on blue tang fish, recalling the spike in demand for clownfish after Finding Nemo.
Experts such as Wendy Higgins from the Humane Society International has pointed out that saltwater fish, such as the blue tang, don't breed well in captivity. This means that all the blue tangs on sale in stores have had to be captured from their natural habitat, which is not in the best interests of the fish or their habitat.
Higgins told IBTimes UK: "There are reports that we are already seeing a troublesome increase in the number of blue tangs offered for sale ahead of the release of Finding Dory. While Finding Nemo has certainly created a greater interest in appreciation for marine wildlife, it has also prompted an unwelcome interest in keeping these wild fish as pets."
Campaigners are now urging Disney to place an explicit warning at the beginning of the film asking viewers not to buy blue tangs like Dory, which will lead to a sharp decline in their population. Some reports suggested that Finding Nemo caused a 40% spike in the sale of clownfish at the time, and experts fear this will happen again with Finding Dory.
According to Higgins, wild capture has "inevitable stress" on the captured fish as their complex needs are difficult to replicate in small home aquariums, causing many of them to die in captivity. Additionally, the fish are captured from coral reefs in the Philippines and Indonesia, often using cyanide that kills corals and other animals, causing a "detrimental impact" to the marine ecosystem.
Higgins said: "It's a fantastic thing to be a huge fan of wild species, but the compulsion to own them as pets is often not compatible with their welfare. Supporting conservation efforts to protect them in the world is a much better way to honour these amazing little fish."
Earlier this month, an 11-year-old girl in Queensland, Australia known only as Sofia started a separate petition urging Ellen DeGeneres, the voice of Dory, to tell her fans about the plight of the Great Barrier Reef. Sofia's petition started after she watched Finding Nemo and visited the Great Barrier Reef, gained more than 27,000 signatures and prompted DeGeneres to invite the girl onto her show to discuss the coral reefs.