Australian pelican FTW, people. This big-mouthed bird plays what can only be described as an immeasurably important role in Finding Nemo. Let’s call this personality-filled spade a spade and say he’s the clutch character in the story, without whom Marlin would never have actually found Nemo. (Sidebar: if that happened, clearly the movie title would have needed a second pass.)
We first meet Nigel when he’s at the window chatting with the Tank Gang (who we so desperately want to hang out with).
Then we see him again while he’s on the rocks with his pelican friends just having a nice afternoon chat. He overhears some sea creatures chatting about this fish named Marlin who’s on a totally epic journey to find his son… Nemo. Bingo. Nigel’s ears perk up and he’s on the case.
He flies over to the dentist’s office and—after a slight misjudgement of whether a window is open or closed—delivers Nemo the best news a sad fish kid could get: “Your dad’s been fighting the entire ocean looking for you.”
Cue music swells of excitement.
This is really the clutch moment to end all moments. He strategically eavesdrops (which is allowed because reasons) and then seeks out more information. He’s sort of like investigative reporter meets old school town crier… except with an Australian accent and in bird form.
Then some other stuff happens (which is funny and charming and great and we want to watch it all the time). And then Nigel proves his clutchness once again by offering to help Marlin and Dory in a most surprising way. He happens to be sitting nearby when a fellow feathered friend scoops up the duo and threatens to thwart their plans.
Sounds weird, and, as a fish, we’re sure it would be concerning to have a pelican say this to you. But as it turns out, more heroic words have rarely been uttered by an animated character. He was able to fly our aquatic heroes to their next stop: the dentist’s office.
Of course that wasn’t quite the end of the story (there was a Nigel led by the tongue around the dentist’s office incident) and Nemo has some additional adventures of his own, but Nigel sure did his part. In short, Nigel the Pelican helped make sure that Nemo and Marlin were reunited and all was right with the under-the-sea world. And, in so doing, he saved Nemo from this terribly terrifying preteen: