REEF TO AQUARIUM

Tracing the path of the ornamental fish trade

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Expedition Overview.

We should have a better summary here. For now, here's the abstract.

Each year, aquarium big business imports hundreds of thousands of colorful marine organisms from distant coral reefs into the US, where one million of the world’s 1.5 million aquarium hobbyists live. Ironically, Finding Nemo, a movie about the distress of a captured clownfish sparked even greater demand for the capture and import of tropical clownfish for home marine aquariums. Now, with the upcoming release of Finding Dory, we expect to see another spike in the tropical fish trade. What does this harrowing journey from reef to aquarium actually look like in the eyes of the fish as well as the people involved in the trade? “Reef to Aquarium: Tracing the Tropical Fish Trade” will navigate the often murky channels of the industry, starting on the biodiverse reefs of the Philippines, passing through the hands of Pacific exporters to American importers, and culminating finally inside the homes of eclectic aquarium hobbyists in the Midwestern United States. Our team comprises a marine social scientist (Shannon Swanson), an aquatic ecologist (Andrea Reid), a sustainability consultant (Mikayla Wujec) and a virtual reality guru (Caleb Kruse). Together we will investigate and document the supply cycle of ornamental fish, as well as the lives of the people who trade them, and ultimately develop a virtual reality experience that transports National Geographic’s audience through the emotional, exciting and unknown life of reef-turned-aquarium fish.

A National Geographic Expedition