Conservation & Science

Protecting Dory

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A clown anemonefish on exhibit in the Aquarium’s Splash Zone galleries.

Tiny orange fish with white stripes dart between the waving tentacles of a stinging anemone. Kids in the Aquarium’s Splash Zone galleries don’t pay much attention to the sign identifying them as clown anemonefish — they already know them by a different name. “Nemo!”

Thirteen years after the release of Finding Nemo, the lovable fish is back on the big screen. But the star of Finding Dory, the long-awaited sequel, is the forgetful blue tang who sets off to find her long-lost family. (“Dory!” is another common sound in our Splash Zone, as kids recognize the blue tangs on exhibit.)

Senior Aquarist Bret Grasse interacts with a giant Pacific octopus at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Senior Aquarist Bret Grasse interacts with a giant Pacific octopus at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The adventures of Dory, Nemo and their friends take them to the Marine Life Institute, a fictional aquarium and ocean conservation center inspired, in part, by Monterey Bay Aquarium. Disney•Pixar animators worked with Aquarium staff for several years, researching details that would help bring the film’s settings and characters—like Hank, the friendly “setpipus”—to life.

Jenna Ortega and Isaak Presley, the 13-year-old stars of Disney Channel’s Stuck in the Middle, recently visited the Aquarium to explore Dory’s world. Our exhibits feature the real-life counterparts of some of the movie’s cutest characters, including sea otters, green sea turtles and bat rays.

“The Monterey Bay Aquarium is dedicated to helping the ocean and all the animals in it,” Jenna says in the video. “If I were a fish, I would love to live here.” Watch the video here.

The real-life marine animals that inspired Dory, Nemo and their friends need a healthy ocean to survive and thrive. So do we — because the ocean sustains all life on Earth.

Here are some easy things each of us can do:

Jack Johnson #MyBag
Singer-songwriter Jack Johnson shows off his ocean-friendly reusable bags.

1. Cut back on plastic

Plastic pollution makes the ocean more dangerous for Dory and her friends. You can help! Avoid single-use plastics by carrying your own reusable bags, bottles and utensils, and choosing products with minimal packaging. If you’re registered to vote in California, vote YES  on Proposition 67 in November to uphold the statewide ban on carry-out plastic bags.

Learn more about ocean plastic pollution at www.montereybayaquarium.org/plastic  

2. Eat sustainably

Use the Seafood Watch app to choose ocean-friendly options.
Use the Seafood Watch app to choose ocean-friendly options.

Certain kinds of fishing can unintentionally harm ocean animals like Dory’s friend Crush, a green sea turtle, and Nemo’s teacher Mr. Ray, an eagle ray. Choose seafood that’s caught or farmed in ways that protect the ocean and its creatures. You’ll find lots of resources at www.seafoodwatch.org.

3. Cool it

Rising temperatures and ocean acidification, caused by people burning fossil fuels, make life harder for reef fish like Dory.

Blue tangs and clown anemonefish, like these on exhibit at the Aquarium, need healthy reefs to survive in the wild.
Blue tangs and clown anemonefish, like these on exhibit at the Aquarium, need healthy reefs to survive in the wild.

Reduce your own carbon dioxide emissions by carpooling, using public transit or riding your bike. Explore more ideas for living a low-carbon lifestyle —and raising a collective voice for a healthier planet — at www.montereybayaquarium.org/climate.

4. Keep it clean

Aquarium Science Director Kyle Van Houtan is an expert on land-based pollution and how it affects marine environments, including coral reefs. He says you can help keep Dory’s ocean home clean by:

  • Eating organic food that’s farmed without use of harmful chemicals
  • Choosing environmentally friendly laundry detergent and reef-safe sunscreen
  • Using a commercial car wash to prevent soapsuds from running into the storm drain
  • Picking up pet waste

Working together to make changes small and large, we can help preserve the health of the ocean —now, and for generations to come.


Disney•Pixar’s Finding Dory opens in theaters in 3D on Friday, June 17. You can learn more about Monterey Bay Aquarium, and our work to conserve the ocean, at www.montereybayaquarium.org.

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