Clownfish could become extinct because of climate change

Pareja de peces payaso en una anémona

The colourful clownfish is in danger again and this time it has nothing to do with Pixar's animated film. 

Finding Nemo unleashed the infamous trend of buying a clownfish and adding it to their home aquarium.

This trend significantly decreased to the population of clownfish but now they face a bigger challenge, climate change. 

These little adorable creatures can only survive if corals can survive and as you all know they are in grave danger with climate change making such a fast leap into our daily lives. 

A team from France’s National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) observed clownfish on the coast of Kimbe Island, in easter Papua New Guinea, for 10 years. 

What the researchers were looking for is the understanding of how weight genetics and environment affected the reproductive success of these animals. 

What they discovered was that the fish’s habitat, including the anemone in which it lives and its geographical location, were the elements that contributed the most to success, or the lack of it, in their reproductive patterns. 

This finding implies that the  species will be susceptible to short-term, small-scale changes in habitat structure. In addition, the clownfish may have a limited ability to adapt to these changes. 

Clownfish have established a symbiotic relationship with anemones. They use them to protect themselves from predators as they are poisonous to other fish. 

The problem comes when the anemones is that in essence the home of the clownfish are in danger, which is happening because they depend on the corals, threatened by the warming of the seas, pollution and man's hand.

According to Benoit Pujol, a CNRS researcher, the ability of a species to adapt is guaranteed by its reproductive success. Clownfish don't reproduce as happily and need a stable and benign environment.

A female, a sexually active male and other males that are not sexually active live in a single anemone. 

When the female dies, the sexually active male becomes female and the largest of the non-sexually active males becomes sexually active. 

If the anemones remains healthy, the clownfish will be able to reproduce, otherwise it could become extinct. 

The death of the corals will be the beginning of the end.

Gabriel Grimsditch who is a member of the Marine Ecosystems Division of the United Nations Environment Programme, says that rising sea temperatures as a result of global warming and human activities, are wiping out corals.

"Corals are very sensitive to temperature changes in the water, in the sea, and live in symbiosis with microscopic algae that live inside them and give them energy. When the temperature rises too high, this symbiosis that gives life and energy to the coral breaks. And when it breaks it is like a fever in humans, the coral is very stressed, is very weak and loses its color and whitens. In this situation the coral can die very easily and we see that there are many corals that when bleached survive a few days, a few weeks, maybe a few months, but in many cases lose their lives," explains Grimsditch on the website of UN News. Bad prognosis for clownfish survival…”

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