Finding Nemo lied to your kids, and they will do it again in the sequel: Finding Dory!

By Patrick Cooney

The Disney film, Finding Nemo, lied to your kids!  Disney would simply argue that they altered reality to create a more entertaining storyline, but read below for the true story, and you tell me which you think is a more entertaining.

Disney forced them to hide the truth!

How Finding Nemo started:

Father and mother clownfish are tending to their clutch of eggs at their sea anemone when the mother is eaten by a barracuda. Nemo is the only surviving egg and he grows up in his father’s anemone before getting lost on a crazy adventure!

Video of the opening scenes:

How Finding Nemo should have started if it were biologically accurate:

Father and mother clownfish are tending to their clutch of eggs at their sea anemone when the mother is eaten by a barracuda. Nemo hatches as an undifferentiated hermaphrodite (as all clownfish are born) while his father transforms into a female now that his female mate is dead. Since Nemo is the only other clownfish around, he becomes a male and mates with his father (who is now a female). Should his father die, Nemo would change into a female and mate with another male. Although a much different storyline, it still sounds like a crazy adventure!

Video of the truth:

As you can see, the first minute of Finding Nemo, outside of the talking fish part, is the only biologically accurate part of the movie. Considering that they demonstrate reproduction and the killing of the mother in the first minute of the movie, how did they decide that a natural sex change is outside the bubble of viewable material?

Fish reproduction is complicated, and it is especially complicated in cases like the clownfish where species are sequential hermaphrodites. These fish are born as hermaphrodites that develop as one gender before changing to the other gender at some point in their life.

Unlike clownfish that start life as males and transform into females, there are other species, like the California Sheephead, that start as females and transform into males. These opposing forms of sequential hermaphrodites are called protandrous hermaphrodites for male to female changing species, and protogynous hermaphrodites for those that change from female to male.

The truth!

A sequential hermaphrodite life history strategy can be extremely detrimental if harvest of fish is allowed prior to male or female reproductive sizes. Should all males be harvested before turning into females at a certain size (or vice versa), a rapid decline would occur in the population. Understanding the triggers and sizes at which fish shift from one sex to the other greatly enhances the ability of fisheries managers to set proper length limits for long term fish population health.

More lies and deception?
In the end, the storyline for Finding Nemo was obviously entertaining for children, but as a fisheries scientist, I must admit, I find the biologically accurate storyline a bit more entertaining. With the announcement of a sequel called ‘Finding Dory’ coming in 2015, Disney still has a chance to redeem themselves, but I am not keeping my small ‘lucky’ fin crossed. Which storyline do you think Disney should show in the sequel?

Be sure to check out The Fisheries Blog on Facebook and Twitter (@FisheriesBlog).  If you want to receive our weekly blog through email, leave your email address in the open space at the top right of the page (scroll up!).  Also, check out an article we wrote a year and a half ago about how birth control in the water is causing fish to display both male and female gonads at the same time.



113 Comments Add yours

  1. carl anderson says:

    “When you wish ……ah how does that song go ? Finding Nemo , just plain , as the song goes , even with permission E Ts communicate with us earthlings with it ( Close Encounters of the Third Kind ) .

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  3. Luis says:

    Ok u can’t ask for the reall world in a kids movie in that case Hercules was a big lie what about mulan other lie I know about clownfish I have a reef tank w clownfish I love the sea world leave the real life in the real life and the fantasi alone

  4. Paul says:

    No one really cares all that much, in my opinion. Saying “Finding Nemo” was biologically inaccurate is like saying Disney’s “Anastasia” isn’t proven and could never actually happen; it’s obvious. There’s a reason it’s an animated film. It’s not lying – they’re just entertaining audiences. Lying is actively trying to make the audience believe this actually happened or could happen (talking fish with vegetarian sharks and all). Nothing but a VERY young child would believe it, and even then they know it’s not real. And let’s be real; did you really want children across the world to watch a child mate with his hermaphrodite parent after being given human traits?

    1. Jane says:

      Anastasia isn’t Disney.

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  21. Mustang says:

    Oh my goodness! Get a freaking grip…

  22. Loomis Dude says:

    This is something that as I am sitting here watching Little Nemo makes me chuckle just a bit.

  23. None Ofyourbusiness says:

    Very interesting information, but you can’t blame a child’s movie for “lying” to kids about something so natural. Do you know how many terrible reviews they would get for making a children’s movie indicating clownfish changing sexes and having sex with their parents? I think that would be sick to show a child at such a young innocent age. Apparently, I don’t care if its biologically incorrect because its A FAMILY FRIENDLY MOVIE. If they didn’t fantasize it, there would be no storyline or plot. Now if it was a documentary telling me about clownfish, I hope they won’t try to sell me fantasized crap. All in all its a great movie to watch for entertainment purposes and I’m excited to see the sequel.

  24. Morvonte Mouton says:

    That just sounds really boring and inappropriate for children to watch. Who cares if fish aren’t portrayed correctly in the cartoon? I doubt any kid would want to learn biology while trying to watch their cartoon. Besides that, they wouldn’t even understand it. Also, putting things such as sex changes and insest is something for older viewers who are watching an EDUCATION channel and is in no way appropriate for childrento watch. If Disney did take your advice they’d be out of business. Stick to educational channels. You don’t have a good enough imagination to deal with cartoons.

    1. Micaela says:

      Yeah, I agree. I mean, Finding Nemo is for children. If you put in that stupid reproduction stuff, it’ll not only be boring, but kids wouldn’t focus on what’s really important in the film. It’s about entertainment. Like the others said, stick to documentaries.

      1. Micaela says:

        I’m almost 16 years old and I still watch kid movies. Who cares? You know what, saying “Disney lies to your kids” is like sucking the fun out of their lives. It’s like that new show Teachers on Free form where she tells the students “I’m not gonna read you fairy tales because they’re lies.” WTF?!

      2. Micaela says:

        I love Finding Nemo mostly for the relationship between Marlin and Nemo. It’s so sweet and cute, and I believe I can relate with my relationship with me and my loving father. We argue at times, and I know that he would do anything for me. I love kid movies, especially this one for that reason, it’s mostly about family. It’s beautiful.

  25. Michelle says:

    Well, I don’t have any problem with Disney lying to kids about the way in which clown fish reproduce. The truth would only confuse them and cause them to ask a million questions, that parents would then have to answer. Clown fish don’t talk either, and every other Disney movie also contained unreal aspects.
    With that being said, I really enjoyed this article, because the topic is interesting to me personally, as an adult. Thanks for this information. I found it to be quite fascinating! Keep up the good work.

  26. asfsdf says:

    damn you’re a butthurt fucktard… And you don’t know SHIT about Finding Dory, yet you already start screaming it ‘lies’! Also, the movie will come out in 2016!

  27. lola says:

    I don’t know but I like the movie and can’t wait for the next one

  28. says:

    This is an interesting read. Wow

  29. Best says:

    Well that explains it

  30. Jman The Reality Wrecker says:

    Stop pushing this “it’s okay to be a trans” Jew shit. A human male or female can not change from a boy or girl. How you were born is who you are for the rest of your life. You will always have the same chromosomes. There’s no way to alter that.

    1. Nicole says:

      How closed minded. How your body is and how your brain chemistry works isn’t always the same. Take some time out your day to do some research before posting hateful and ignorant things… with science now a man can even get a uterus after a sex change and carry a baby just like a woman. Like chromosomes matter at that point!

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    1. matt says:

      I think Jman was trying to say that naturally, human biology doesn’t ‘just change’. Clownfish biology can change, but humans… no. We could undergo expensive and invasive surgery to alter our bodies, but that’s not a natural act. Just because a person takes a lot of hormones still won’t make them a different man/ woman… Trying to compare humans and clownfish is silly. We are very different beings.

  32. Girlycard says:

    Vampires can change their gender…
    It’s a lot easier than changing into a bat, that’s for sure! It is a little nifty thing called ‘shapeshifting’! :O

    The reason why there is so much hate from humans for gay or trans people is simple…

    Humans usually have a strong gender identity and have built their whole life around being a ‘male’ or ‘female’. These people fear the possibility of changing into the other gender. Also anything out of gender norms.

    When you die you lose your body. Humans CAN be reincarnated as a different gender. Your physical gender is not you. Just like your body is not really ‘you’. It is merely your flesh. Similar to driving a vehicle. It is nothing more. Stop reading so much into it. Learn to be a person who is not dependant upon your parts down there. That sounds like a primitive animal…

    Then we have the male or female brain. This is an entirely different issue. I believe some of it is due to chemicals, then some is due to the soul’s masculinity or femininity. It also can be affected by past lives.

    Awesome article BTW!

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  34. Rose says:

    Why… Why in the WORLD would ANYONE put that in a CHILDREN’S movie?! That doesn’t sound interesting at ALL. THAT information should be reserved for a science class. In the meantime, let CHILDREN enjoy the wondrous adventures of a father fish traveling to save his son. It isn’t that complicated. Your children get more fun out of believing the tooth fairy is a mythical being instead of knowing that it’s their parent. Like, what the heck?

  35. Jason says:

    People like you really need to get a life. Its called entertainment.

  36. Carp Critic says:

    this is a funny article, trolling perhaps lol

  37. Donavin Sparr says:

    Finding Dory should have the Barracuda as the Main Antagonist that has eaten Coral and now this is Marlin’s chance to finally get rid of the Barracuda this time he talks in a creepy antagonistic voice while he speaks to Marlin and says “is that your son?” That’s would make things interesting in the movie.

  38. Maritza says:

    You know Disney would of gotten a lot of hate and backlash if thet would of aired a movie with the whole boys become girls story. Why is it so hard to accept someone’s imagination .. say what you want abouthow it lies but I love the story as it is and can’t wait to see dory find her family.

  39. Deej says:

    finding memo was made to cater to kids and not to biologists or scientists. If it were biologically accurate, it would cause confusion in the minds of kids – the papa fish turned into a mama fish and then the papa turned mama fish will now get together with the baby fish. They might need to see the psychiatrist. The movie was for entertainment and not education regarding clown fish’s biological make up.

  40. Matimba says:

    don’t you think it will be disturbing for kids to see nemos dad turn into female and mate with his kid or her kid. its just plain disturbing for kids…

  41. Sarah says:

    They probably didn’t use this as the story as it would be really creepy and it is a kids movie after all they don’t want to watch 2 hours of fish changing sex, leave that to David Attenborough.

  42. Lisa Rheaume says:

    OMG… who cares! This is a kids movie do u really think kids are going to read in to this movie other than Nemo and his Dad survive a big fish eating his Mom and sibling and that Nemo and his Dad live a normal life. Kids don’t need to know all that other crazy stuff.

  43. Asdnxhxbxb says:

    What a great article to completely destroy any hope a young child could have for enjoying an animated work of fiction

  44. Tellee Gillsing says:

    I’m sorry, but I must be reading this article with the wrong attitude. I thought it was funny and informative. Could the writer please correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think he actually expects Disney to put that in a movie. I think it was a clever way to inform people of an interesting fact. I don’t think this was meant to send people into a frenzy over Transgender issues. Perhaps I wasn’t reading “between the lines” enough?

    1. Nicole says:

      I have a problem with the way they went about it. I think it should be, “If Finding Nemo was biologically accurate.” Instead of, “Disney is lying to your children.” Big difference.

  45. Em Aych says:

    Well. I don’t really know why you would think that Disney can show incest and in depth mating and biology when 4 year olds are watching and that kind of biology is usually only taught in upper grade levels. But. This is just meant to be a story about family (of blood or of choice) that whole families can watch together and learn from, it doesn’t need to be scientifically accurate. Would a clownfish travel miles around to find his son who is trying to escape to return to him at the same time? I really doubt it. But if these fish were humans the story would appear much darker wouldn’t it? A parent would search to the ends of the earth for their child because of love. So while I understand that you seem passionate about the scientific accuracy of the movie, Disney isn’t lying. The biology isn’t the propose of the movie, it’s not a nature documentary on BBC or NatGeo or anything like that. Disney is just telling a story through an entertaining medium children will enjoy to get their message across.

    1. Em Aych says:

      However this was an interesting article to read, if only reading the facts and not about the movies. I didn’t know that clownfish only went male to female, I had thought it could go either way. Interesting.

  46. Patty says:

    If you want be more accurate, it was not a Barracuda, it was a Wahoo. They look similar but Wahoo have stripes. Barracuda don’t

  47. Me says:

    Seriously? Biologically accurate? Hermaphrodites? Mates with his father? Are you smoking crack? It’s a cartoon you freaking moron..

    1. Nicole says:


    2. Emilie says:

      Sorry I laughed too long at this XD

  48. Nicole says:

    This would of been much more interesting if you just gave us the information instead of saying Disney lied.. I don’t know if any Disney movie that is real. They aren’t supposed to be accurate..

  49. Krista says:

    Jesus, your kids must have lots of fun at your house! Lol

  50. Emilie says:

    Sorry, but I would have hated it if that was how the movie went! Imagine a little 5 year old girl watching this movie, her mouth hanging open because Disney showed incest and mating on a childrens movie! Needless to say, my mother would have jumped in the very second it went bad to shut off the TV.

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