KUALA LUMPUR, August 3 – Marine researchers have spotted the real-life versions of Nickelodeon’s famous duo SpongeBob and Patrick Star during a recent deep dive.
Only it wasn’t the pineapple under the sea at Bikini Bottom but somewhere on the seabed of the Atlantic Ocean.
Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) were controlling a remote control vehicle when they came across the square-shaped yellow sponge and a pink five-pointed starfish at the Seamount Retriever off the coast of New England last week at a depth of 1,885 meters, Live Science reported.
Images of the sea sponge and the star were shared by NOAA as part of a live stream on Facebook.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History marine biologist Christopher Mah immediately thought of the popular Nickelodeon characters when he saw the footage.
âNormally I avoid these (references), but wow. SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick in real life, âtweeted Mah, a starfish expert.
– Christopher Mah (@echinoblog) July 27, 2021
Mah said Live Science he made the comparison as soon as he saw them on video.
The images quickly took to social media, and even the official SpongeBob Squarepants Instagram account stepped in to share an image of the cartoon characters alongside their real life versions.
Mah said the scientific name for the sponge is Hertwigia and the starfish is Chondraster, adding that the exact species is unclear and may even be brand new to science.
Smithsonian magazine said the find was interesting to scientists because bright yellow sponges are rarely found at this depth and most deep-sea sponges are either white or neutral in color.
While the Nickelodeon icons are the best friends of the cartoon, the same can’t be said for their real-life counterparts.
Although they appear to hang out in the photo, the two creatures don’t get along.
âThis species of starfish has been observed feeding on sponges,â Mah said.
Created by marine scientist and host Stephen Hillenburg to help children learn about marine life, SpongeBob Squarepants was established in 1999 and remains a success today.
“I am happy that the photo has delighted so many people,” said Mah.
“I hope this will also raise awareness of the deep sea as a habitat, which has been threatened by mining and fishing on the high seas.”