Breeding the popular blue tang in captivity is an important step toward protecting wild fish and reefs from destructive practices.
For biologist Kevin Barden, blue tangs are an obsession that began when he was five years old and came face-to-face with one at Boston’s New England Aquarium. Now 29, he has played a leading role in cracking the code to successfully culturing the popular species.
Today, the University of Florida Tropical Aquaculture Lab, in conjunction with Rising Tide Conservation, announced that blue tangs—or Dory, as fans of the Disney movie will know—have been bred in captivity for the first time.
“This breakthrough has the potential to help reduce the overexploitation of the species and continue to address wildlife crime associated with cyanide use in the saltwater aquarium trade,” says biologist Andrew Rhyne, a winner of this year’s Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge, sponsored in part by National Geographic, for coming up with a way that allows better monitoring of the marine aquarium trade.
No one knows how many blue tangs are taken from coral reefs across the Indo-Pacific each year for saltwater aquariums. No one knows how much reef is damaged annually by destructive fishing practices—notably the use of cyanide to stun the fish and make them easier to catch—commonly associated with capturing blue tangs. No one knows…