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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 December, 2004, 12:56 GMT
Fish 'choose friends underwater'
Finding Nemo
Fish friendships were at the fore in Finding Nemo
Fish find friends and stick together with their pals underwater, according to a study.

University of Leicester biologists found fish were careful about which species they mixed with and use senses other than vision to find "friends".

They tended to stick with those most like themselves and preferred others from the same "neighbourhood".

The research, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, was based on three-spine sticklebacks.

The findings suggest the makers of hit film Finding Nemo may have been onto something.

Habitat

Pixar's animated tale told the story of a clown fish who enlisted the help of underwater friends to search for his long-lost son.

The University of Leicester team, led by Dr Paul Hart and Dr Ashley Ward, said their findings had important implications for understanding the dynamics of fish reproduction as well as environment and habitat protection.

Dr Hart said: "People often think of individual animals as little machines, which can be moved around and dealt with as objects with no regard to how individuals relate to each other.

"Our research, along with other studies elsewhere, are showing that even fish are not ignorant of who they are interacting with."

It is thought fish could be using mainly smell to find familiar fish so that they can stick around with those who come from the same background."



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