Nemo Sex Change Shock

I achieved a lifetime ambition last week by diving on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. One of the many fish I encountered on my six dives over two days was the Clown Fish, aka the Anenome Fish, made famous by the film ‘Finding Nemo’.

Clown Fish

Talking to the dive guides I learned that the film script has taken liberties with the reproductive cycle of the Clown Fish. Apparently, in a school of these fish, they are all males with the exception of one female. She periodically bites a gland on the neck of each male which releases a hormone that keeps them male, so that she can mate with them. When the female dies, there’s no biting of glands so one of the males turns into a female and then takes up the new biting duties. So, if ‘Finding Nemo’ had been true to the life cycle of the Clown Fish, when Nemo’s Mum died, his Dad should have had a sex change and mated with Nemo. Not very Disney, is it. There are times when we writers don’t want facts to get in the way of a good story.

Marvin and Tim (right!)

This reproductive cycle is in contrast with another fish I encountered, the Napoleon Wrasse (like Marvin, pictured), aka the Maori Wrasse. These fish are mostly female, each male having a harem. The females turn into males when they reach a certain age/size. Wouldn’t it be confusing if, when human girls reached a certain age, they turned into blokes? Good idea for a script, perhaps.


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