This Week on Earth: May 11-17


By Jamie Leventhal and Jamie Schmid

Don't Find Dory


"Finding Nemo" was a massive success for Disney and Pixar 13 years ago, but it considerably damaged wild clownfish populations across the planet. Now scientists are worried about the environmental impact that the film's sequel, "Finding Dory," will have on blue tang fish when it's released later this year.

Since 2003, native clownfish numbers have declined to the point of local extinction in some areas. While climate change and coral bleaching are partially to blame, many of these fish were collected for pets after "Finding Nemo" created a high demand. Although these fish are actually easy to breed in captivity, according to an article from the Huffington Post, 90 percent of clownfish are taken from the wild.

Marine biologists and celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, who voices Dory, are concerned about how the film will impact blue tang numbers. This fish is more difficult to breed in captivity, unlike the clownfish. Protection for this species in the future requires more education and awareness about reef conservation.

Carbon dioxide could fuel forests in Latin America


According to a recent study, if abandoned forests in Latin American farmland were allowed to grow for another 40 years, they could remove at least 31 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The New York Times reported that this study, originally published in Science Advances, currently offers the most detailed estimates for a promising approach to combating climate change. These forests could offset close to 20 years of fossil fuel emissions from the region.

While many Latin American countries have promised to promote forest regeneration and cut back on deforestation, it's unlikely that their governments will dedicate the amount of land necessary to complete the prediction.

Tourists put bison in car, concerned it was cold

We have all been taught not to touch or interfere with wild animals. Unfortunately, this lesson went over the heads of a father and his son at Yellowstone National Park.

The pair, who were foreigners on vacation, were concerned that a baby bison was going to freeze and die. They decided put the wild animal in the back of their SUV and brought it to the park ranger. The ranger immediately told them to remove the animal, adding that this could get them in deep trouble.


Law enforcement was called, and the tourists were given a ticket. The bison was re-released where the pair had found it.

Moral of the story: According to the National Park Service, you have to stay at least 25 yards away from wild animals - this means don’t put them in your SUV.

**Update: the National Park Service was forced to euthanize the calf because it had been abandoned by the herd**

First North Dakotan Wolverine: Shot and Killed

The conflict between ranchers and environmentalists continues as the first wolverine in the state in 150 years was shot and killed.

The rancher claims the animal had been harassing his cattle. If a wolf threatened his livestock, the rancher’s kill would have been legal.


Wolverines look like baby bears, not like wolves as their name entails. They are very aggressive carnivores and scavengers that can kill big prey. This animal, known as M56, had travelled almost 500 miles from Wyoming to Colorado in 2009.

Although the federal government declined to add this animal to the endangered species list in 2014, a judge has ordered the Fish and Wildlife Service to take a second look at the decision.  

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