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Finding Nemo to get tougher

Paris, Nov. 28 (AFP): Finding Nemo, the world’s best-known clown fish, may become harder than ever if the coral reefs that house his species continue to disappear at current alarming rates, marine ecologists say.

Twelve million pieces of living coral and 20 million tropical fish are sold each year to decorate aquariums, part of a trade which could wipe out the planet’s 600,000 sq km of reefs — a total area larger than France — within decades, the experts warn. Tropical fish sales have boomed by 20 per cent in the US since the success of Disney’s summer blockbuster Finding Nemo, this year’s highest-grossing movie.

The film, which Disney expects to become the biggest selling DVD ever, recounts the adventures of Marlin, a red-and-white striped clown fish who crosses the Pacific Ocean to rescue his son Nemo after he is caught by divers and taken to an aquarium in a dentist’s surgery in Sydney, Australia. “The film is a wonderful opportunity to get people to love the sea,” said Stephane Henard, director of Nausicaa marine life centre at Boulogne, on the Atlantic coast of France. But he cautioned that the movie contained numerous errors and depicted the seas as far less polluted and dangerous than they really are. Pollution, commercial fishing and tourism have already damaged 10 per cent of the coral reefs beyond repair and 40 per cent are in danger, Henard said.

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