Conservation: A Popularity Contest?
(This Research in Action article was provided to LiveScience in partnership with the National Science Foundation.)
by Loren McClenachan, NSF
The clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris), shown here sheltering in a magnificent sea anemone (Heteractis magnifica), became one of the most recognizable and charismatic marine species after starring in the movie “Finding Nemo” (Walt Disney Pictures, 2003). Charisma can help the cause of conservation, as well-known species tend to garner greater conservation awareness, funding and legal protection.
However, a study published in the January 2012 issue of Conservation Lettersshows that even for charismatic species, taxonomic biases can affect conservation knowledge and legal protection. Among species featured in Finding Nemo,16 percent are at risk of extinction. People show significantly less conservation knowledge of small species like the anemonefish. Likewise, species with high economic value, like sharks, have deficiencies in legal protection relative to their conservation need.
This photo was taken by Natascia Tamburello in October 2010 at a depth of about 35 feet. The dive site, Halik, is located off of the island of Gili Trawangan in Indonesia — one of the few remaining relatively pristine reef ecosystems in the world.
(read more: Live Science) (image: Natascia Tamburello, Simon Fraser Univ.)
The-Camera-Trap has dived extensively in the Gili islands and, like many of the reefs in the coral triangle, they are FAR from pristine. He reports:
“There is still evidence of blast fishing, and poor recovery…the house reefs are silted up cos of boat damage and run off with lots of nutrient indicator algae and the shark numbers are dropping. The pelagics are rare too….things like chevroned barracuda are rare where they shouldn’t be. The less known ones likesimons reef are pretty much pristine and stunning amazing but the house reefs and nearby commonly used locations suffer from a bad case of over crowding too.”