Remember that famous cartoon show about a pineapple under the sea, and the comedic inhabitants of that neighbourhood?
It seems researchers have found the real-life version of those characters.
Welcome to Bikini Bottom
Marine biologist Christopher Mah shared an underwater photo on July 28 of a pair of creatures that might look rather familiar.
Ring any bells?
Although they might be missing a white shirt and brown shorts and some green Hawaiian trunks, the two animals resemble the cartoon characters Spongebob Squarepants and his best friend, Patrick Star.
The sponge and sea star were perched side by side 1,885m deep in the Atlantic Ocean, on an underwater mountain called the Retriever Seamount.
The photo was snapped by a remotely-operated vehicle deployed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Okeanos Explorer ship, which is tasked with mapping the vast oceans and understanding what life lies beneath the surface.
— Christopher Mah (@echinoblog) July 27, 2021
Mah’s tweet has since garnered over 4,600 retweets, a testament to the resemblance between the marine animals and the cartoon characters.
Here’s a cute edit of the original photo.
— M (@mwhdeere) July 30, 2021
Sea stars actually prey on sponges
Speaking to Insider , Mah said:
“I thought it would be funny to make the comparison, which for once was actually kind of comparable to the iconic images/colors of the cartoon characters.”
He added that as a biologist who specialises in the study of echinoderms — a group of marine invertebrates which include sea cucumbers, sea urchins and sea stars — most depictions of Spongebob and Patrick are “inaccurate”.
Sponges comprise a huge group of marine creatures, and while they might be absorbent and porous, they aren’t usually as bright a yellow as the one that was spotted in the Atlantic.
Incidentally, sponges are part of the menu for sea stars, aside from other creatures such as snails and clams, and real-life “Patrick” could have been scooting close to devour “Spongebob”.
Closer to home, sponges and sea stars are common sights in Singapore reefs, and while you might not find ones that resemble the cartoon duo, Singapore has its own pink sea star as well.
The knobbly sea star is one of Singapore’s largest species of sea stars, and is known for its distinct brown knobs.
In fact, Singapore’s waters are host to rich biodiversity as well.
However, do note that marine life should not be handled or picked up as they are sensitive to disturbances, and it’s best to simply observe them should you spot any during your beach or intertidal walks.
Top photo from echinoblog / Twitter
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