How Nemo’s ocean highway supports life along Australia’s east coast

Published 8 June 2020
Anna Scott in ABC documentary Australia's Ocean Odyssey Dr Anna Scott in a scene from the ABC TV documentary Australia's Ocean Odyssey (credit: Ginclear Film).

The famous ocean highway that transported Nemo the clownfish along Australia’s east coast is the subject of a new documentary featuring Southern Cross University sea anemone expert Dr Anna Scott.

Anemonefish credit Anna Scott
Anemonefish (credit Anna Scott).

Premiering on ABC TV and iview on Tuesday June 9 to coincide with World Oceans Day, Australia’s Ocean Odyssey: a journey down the East Australian Current showcases the 3000km-long natural phenomenon that regulates this country’s climate, shape our lives and fosters biodiversity.

Episode 1 explains how the East Australian Current (EAC) creates life on land and at sea. Starting at the Great Barrier Reef, audiences watch microscopic plankton bloom, discover how a clownfish finds its home and see a baby whale begin the journey of a lifetime.

Dr Anna Scott, a researcher based at the University’s National Marine Science Centre in Coffs Harbour, is at the cutting-edge of anemonefish research and their symbiotic relationship with the sea anemones they call home.

Watch the Australia's Ocean Odyssey trailer featuring Dr Anna Scott diving and talking from 1.13.

Anemonefish – like Nemo the clownfish – only live in 10 species of host sea anemone. A close relative of corals, the sea anemone provides a home while the anemonefish provides food and protection for the anemone.

“To be able to study sea anemone and to provide information that might help protect them is a real passion and a real privilege for me,” said Dr Scott.

Dr Scott was the first person to scientifically document sexual reproduction in sea anemones. She has also developed techniques for breeding host sea anemones in captivity in a bid to supply the aquarium trade and restock degraded areas.

“Reefs are like cities. A whole lot of marine creatures are doing lots of different jobs to keep that city functioning and every one of them is important,” Dr Scott said. “Yet reefs are fragile ecosystems and the changes we humans make in our everyday lives can help ensure their futures.

“We are all the guardians for those creatures and those beautiful reef environments that I love to study and that our children will love to visit.”

Australia’s Ocean Odyssey: a journey down the East Australian Current: the three-part series airs on ABC TV + iview on Tuesday June 9, 16 and 23

Media contact: Sharlene King 0429 661 349 or