Melbourne: The fish, known in the Hollywood movie Finding Nemo, can see ultraviolet (UV) light and can use them to find friends and food, according to one study. Researchers at the University of Queens (UQ) have been trying to find out how anemone fish – easily recognizable by their striking orange and white appeal – see their world and how it affects their behavior.
The findings show that the Great Barrier Reef anemone is essentially Nemo's cousin. "We looked at everything, from the genes they use to see and what proteins they express, and in combination with anatomical data, they predicted what these anemone fish could see," said Fabio Cortés of the Queensland Institute of Brains (QBI) ) on the UQ. "The proteins involved in light detection have miniature, well-known differences that affect the wavelength of light they absorb," Cortes said. The team was able to discover a unique specialization in fish eyes that could enable them to better detect their friends and their anemones.
"In the fish eye part of the forward looking anemone, photoreceptors detect a combination of violet light and ultraviolet light," said Gianni de Busserol, QBI co-author of the study. "They seem to be very good at color contrast and look very good at UV – they seem to use it a lot," De Busserolls said.
Co-author of the study, Sarah Stibb, said the special ability makes sense, based on the environment of the fish and the food source. “Anemonefish live very close to the surface, where UV light can easily penetrate. They live in symbiosis with anemones, and anemones use UV to grow, "Stibb said. "In addition, anemonefish feed on UV-absorbing zooplankton so it will look like dark spots against the background, making it easy to find," she said. "It seems that their visual system is too tuned to recognize who is their friend and who is not. The white stripes of anemonefish reflect UV, which means they should be easier for other anemonefish to recognize, "he said. -PTI