By Bridget Altman
Finding Nemo is one of my all time favorite movies. One reason it holds a dear place in my heart is its impressive scientific accuracy*. All of the little nuances in the dialogue made the inner marine biology nerd in me LOL hard. I couldn’t wait for Finding Dory to come out. I saw it on opening day and I loved it! It featured some pretty awesome creatures: everything from whale sharks to sea cucumbers. There were undeniably some creative liberties taken by the writers, and it is clearly not as scientifically accurate as the original. Dory, Nemo, and Marlin would not be able to survive the cold Northern California waters for very long (just to name one). But there are still some great factual take-home messages from this highly anticipated sequel. And here are a few…
5 Scientifically Accurate things we learned from Finding Dory:
1. Echolocation is like the world’s best pair of glasses. Dolphins and other toothed whales (Odontocetes) send sound out a series of clicks into the water: vibrations that bounce off solid objects. The clicks bounce off solid objects and get returned to the lower jaw of the dolphin. This then gets processed in the brain and allows for a clear picture of the animal’s aqueous surroundings. This allows them to “see” everything clearly that is nearby!
2. Octopuses have 3 hearts; 2 “branchial hearts” that pump blood to the gills and one “systemic heart” that pumps blood to the rest of the body. Instead of hemoglobin, octopus blood is high in the copper-rich protein hemocyanin. This protein is more effective at transporting oxygen in areas of very low oxygen and temperature, regions that many species of octopuses call home.
3. Blue tang fish (like Dory) are not immune to anemone stings. Anemonefish (like clownfish) must maintain immunity to anemone stings by being stung and then secreting a mucousy layer that therefore protects them from being harmed by the anemones they call home. Blue tang fish, members of the surgeonfish family, do not secrete that mucous and therefore cannot be protected by the anemone in the same way as Marlin and Nemo.
4. Whale sharks have surprisingly small eyes relative to their large size. A Whale Shark can be up to 40 feet in length from head to tail. The width of their head is approximately five feet wide, but its eyes are about the size of a golf ball. It is hard to tell whether or not whale sharks are truly near-sighted like the character, Destiny. Scientists are still studying eyesight in these gentle giants, but kudos to the writers for including their small eyes into the big story.
5. There is nothing cuter than a Sea Otter cuddle party.
*Except for this one minor (kind of hilarious) detail.
Copyright © 2016 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.