Coral Reef Play

The release of Finding Dory is a perfect opportunity to talk about coral reefs and incorporate it into play. You can get both life like replicas of sea creatures from PapoSchleich and Mojo or even Finding Dory figurines from Bullyland. I had a quick glance at the licensed Finding Dory toys available in places like Target and BIG W and it’s the fad type of toys I find don’t engage my kids for a long time (you can check out this post for the type of toys I like to invest in for my kids and a detailed post on how the kids use the toys here). On the other hand, simple plastic figurines have proven to last the distance in both durability and play and we have a huge collection of them. These are fun for bath play too, and the good thing about plastic figurines is they don’t have holes so no water gets in and turns manky.

Coal Reef Play - Inspired by Finding Dory


  • Plastic container
  • Blue food colouring
  • Plastic sea life figurines
  • For the coral part, either use rocks and foliage or check out an aquarium or pet store for plastic additions to the set up

Coral Reef Play

Coral Reef Play

Finding Dory in Real Life

If you’re looking for the animals that inspired the real life characters in Finding Dory, below is a guide:

  • Dory & Mum and Dad (Charlie & Jenny): Pacific Blue Tang
  • Nemo and Marlin: Percula Clownfish
  • Hank: Giant Pacific Octopus
  • Destiny: Whale Shark
  • Bailey: Beluga Whale
  • Mr. Ray: Spotted Eagle Ray
  • Crush: Green Sea Turtle
  • Fluke and Rudder: California Sea Lions
  • Becky: Common Loon
  • Otters: Sea Otters
finding nemo animials in real life blue tang

©2016 Disney•Pixar / © Dreamstime

The Reef in Real Life

I was lucky to be invited on a Qantas trip to the reef off Hamilton Island recently, and below is a quick video of the reef from the air and under the sea. The part of the reef I visited had more soft coral (as opposed to a hard coral). You can find my review of Hamilton Island here

You can also find other wonderful information about coral reef in books, and you can find a list of top books in this post

Coral Reef Play Set Up

It’s fun to recreate your own mini reef at home. This is great for the bath, or set up in a plastic or underbed container. Simply fill with water, add a drop of blue food colouring (it’s so diluted and doesn’t stain hands) and build the reef!

Coral Reef Play

Coral Reef Play

Coral Reef Play

Coral Reef Play

Coral Reef Play

Just keep swimming.

Finding Dory Movie Review

Great Barrier Reef off Hamilton Island

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