Washington: In a new study, scientists have found that clownfish larvae can swim up to 400 kilometres in search of a new home, which helps them deal with the environmental changes better
Study's co-author Dr Hugo Harrison from James Cook University said that clownfish spent their entire adult lives under the protection of their host anemone but as babies they have to wander the open ocean.
He added that knowing how far larvae disperse helped them to understand how fish populations could adapt to environmental changes as the further they could swim, the better they could cope.
As part of the international study, co-author Dr Stephen Simpson from the University of Exeter had led a team of researchers to southern Oman, where they collected samples of the only two known populations of the Omani clownfish, Amphiprion omanensis.
The research team collected tissue samples from almost 400 clownfish and used DNA fingerprinting to identify fish that had migrated between the two coral reef systems, which were separated by 400km of ocean water.
The study found the fish were making regular migrations from one population to another and in doing so were travelling across 400km of open ocean. They also found that most of the fish travelled from North to South, while very few travelled in the opposite direction.
This direction corresponded to the dominant ocean currents in the region, which are driven by the winter monsoon.
Second generation migrants were also present in both populations, which suggested that after completing their dispersal phase, migrants were settling into anemones and surviving long enough to reproduce.
Dr Simpson said that the distance was the furthest they had been able to track and the findings showed how connected the marine environment could be.