Page last updated at 14:06 GMT, Tuesday, 3 November 2009

BBC is finding Nemo... in Swansea


Swansea University's aquarium tanks have featured in Sir David Attenborough's Life series for BBC

They were underwater pictures which enthralled millions of viewers.

But extreme close-ups of baby clownfish shown on the BBC One wildlife series Life were shot not in an exotic natural location - but at Swansea University.

Makers of the flagship series, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, captured almost all of the sequence in the wild.

However, they did not want to disturb the new-born fish - which also featured in the film Finding Nemo - so asked the university which breeds them for help.

Special tanks were prepared to allow the film makers to record the behaviour and development of larvae and young juveniles and capture ultra close up shots of the developing eggs.

They had proved impossible to film in the wild without running the risk of disturbing both parents and young.

The painstaking work was broadcast on Monday night in an episode dedicated to the diverse life histories of fish.

It has been a great experience for our team to participate in this latest of Sir David Attenborough's productions
Dr Robin Shields, CSAR director

The university's Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture Research (CSAR) has been breeding clownfish for many years.

It was first approached by the BBC team last year.

After several months of preparing special tanks for filming and allowing the fish to settle into their new surroundings, the chosen adults began spawning in spring 2009.

Clownfish lay their eggs on meticulously prepared rock or coral at the foot of their host anemone and vigorously defend and clean their clutch throughout development.

Having photographed these behaviours in the wild, the Life production team were keen to obtain additional close up shots under controlled conditions, showing larvae hatching and swimming into open water and small juveniles taking refuge for their first time within a sea anemone.

The programme makers patiently observed and recorded the tiny clownfish larvae and juveniles during successive evenings over several weeks.

CSAR director Dr Robin Shields said: "We have been delighted to contribute to the Life series in this way.

"The BBC Natural History Unit are rightly world famous for their expertise and diligence in bringing the natural world to our screens.

"It has been a great experience for our team to participate in this latest of Sir David Attenborough's productions."

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