Did the movie Finding Dory increase demand for blue tang fish?

14 August 2019


Diogo Veríssimo, Sean Anderson, Michael Tlusty

View Journal Article / Working Paper

Representations of wildlife in television and films have long been hypothesized to shape human-wildlife interactions. A recent example is Pixar’s film Finding Dory, which featured a blue tang fish (Paracanthurus hepatus) as the main character and was widely reported in the popular press to have increased the number of such fish in the pet trade. We use Bayesian posterior predictive counterfactual models to evaluate the movie’s effect on three metrics of societal behaviour. Although there was an increase in global online searches for the blue tang 2–3 weeks after the movie, we find no substantial evidence for an increase in imports of blue tang fish into the US, or in number of visitors to US aquaria compared to counterfactual expectations. It is vital that an evidence-based discourse is used when communicating potential impacts of popular culture on human-wildlife relationships to avoid loss of credibility and misdirection of conservation resources.