As Finding Dory hits theaters, American children are about to get really curious about what fish are like. The answer, broadly speaking, is dumb and skittish, but different fish behave in different ways. They’re hard wired to do so. So what are the sea creatures featured in the new flick like?
In addition to Dory the pacific regal blue tang and Marlin and Nemo the clownfish, Finding Dory will also feature Crush the sea turtle, Destiny the whale shark, Bailey the beluga whale, Fluke and Rudder the sea lions, Hank the octopus, and Mr. Ray the stingray. It’s a diverse crew.
Pacific Regal Blue Tang
In Finding Nemo, we only saw Dory interacting with other species. This time, though, we get her parents. Tangs can actually be aggressive with one another, but regal blue tangs could be considered among the chiller and more peaceful of the tangs. Juvenile blue tangs will also hold “cleaning stations” for green sea turtles, so there’s probably room for a Dory/Crush prequel somewhere in there.
Clownfish are kinda boring, and mostly just hang around the anemone of their choice. But it turns out that when a female clownfish dies, the dominant male clownfish changes its sex and takes over. This is known as “sequential hermaphroditism.” From a scientific perspective, this kind of puts a pin in the entire Finding Nemo plotline, plus seems like a huge missed opportunity to have a transgender character in the movie. Not to worry, though, because in Finding Dory, we do get a stingray transitioning to a stingrhonda.
Green Sea Turtle
In Finding Nemo, Crush the sea turtle was an immensely chilled-out surfer-dude type, which isn’t too much of a stretch. Green sea turtles like Crush and his son, Squirt, are known for long migrations and sunbathing.
Whale sharks are the absolute raddest creatures in existence and if this movie does not do them justice I will never watch anything Disney makes ever again. They got Kaitlin Olson to voice the character of Destiny the whale shark, so that’s a good start. The world’s largest fish, whale sharks are gentle-giant types that survive on plankton. They travel incalculable distances — literally, no one knows where they go — and enjoy hanging out in the shallows or right near the surface. They usually swim slowly and will often let divers approach, as there’s no need to be either rushed or scared when you are simply that awesome.
The two episodes of Modern Family I was once made to watch left me with the distinct impression that Ty Burrell was the single most obnoxious human being of whom anyone could ever conceive, but I suppose that could have just been the character and isn’t a sufficient reason for me to hate Bailey the beluga whale at the outset. Beluga whales are super social, but in a generally gender-exclusive way. Males hang out and can form “clans numbering in the thousands” for certain parts of their migrations; females band together and, unlike with many other species, remember their offspring and can identify them later in life. They’re also highly adorable, and known for the distinct, shrill, squeaky sound they use to communicate.
Sea lions are dogs. We known this. One once tried to get me to play fetch with an old sea cucumber, and I am not messing with you; they are big, big water dogs. They bark. They are smelly, loud, playful, social, and smart.. Their varied diet does include octopus, which means Finding Dory characters Rudder and Fluke might need to adopt some iteration of the “fish are friends, not food” mantra when they hang out with …
Hank the octopus, voiced by Ed O’Neill. Octopuses (yes, octopuses, and the roots of the word are Greek and not Latin so if anything it should be octopodes before it would be octopi, but anyone who pluralizes it as anything besides “octopuses” is a fool who is either pretentious, wrong, or both) are disconcertingly smart, the kind of smart that makes you feel bad about eating them (except when you are actually eating them and can only think of how delicious they are). They can use tools. They are sneaky, and can outwit their prey. They are generally shy, but have surprised scientists with social behavior.
Spotted Eagle Ray
Stingrays are yet another chilled-out species. They spend a lot of their lives biding their time hiding in the sand, waiting for food to swim by. They undulate in fluid, energy-conserving motions and would seem quite soft overall if it weren’t for the barbed tail, which is a defense mechanism. They’re popular tourist attractions, so remember to not be the sort of horrible person who feeds them.