A research vessel was combing the depths of the Atlantic when it filmed something straight out of a cartoon.
Biologist Christopher Mah was watching a live feed from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) when he noticed two sea creatures bearing an uncanny resemblance to the beloved characters SpongeBob and Patrick from the animated show “SpongeBob SquarePants.”
*laugh* I normally avoid these refs..but WOW. REAL LIFE Sponge bob and Patrick! #Okeanos Retreiver seamount 1885 m pic.twitter.com/fffKNKMFjP
The bright yellow sponge and pink starfish were sadly not living in a pineapple under the sea. They were found at a depth of 2,000 meters on the Retriever Seamount, an extinct volcano east of New York City.
And unlike the characters in the now-classic show, the Hertwigia (sponge) and Chondraster (starfish) are not best friends.
“In all likelihood, the reason that starfish is right next to that sponge is because that sponge is just about to be devoured, at least in part,” Mah told NPR.
Sea stars are carnivores and feed on other slow-moving and stationary marine life such as coral, clams, sea sponges and oysters.
— Christopher Mah (@echinoblog) July 27, 2021
While the pink sea star is most likely the inspiration for the character of Patrick, SpongeBob is closer to a synthetic supermarket sponge. But this did not stop Twitter users from taking the photo Mah posted and adding arms and legs to make the sea creatures resemble their fictional counterparts.
For those who actually WANT to see it? Here is Chondraster feeding on a sponge! (not the yellow "Spongebob" one though) from the #Okeanos North Atlantic canyons expedition in 2013 #realpatrick https://t.co/qmdzHV9q1E pic.twitter.com/xhqWA9k6ge
— Christopher Mah (@echinoblog) July 31, 2021
It was a rare sight — and has brought joy to everyone who loves the animated series and aquatic life.
— snowskatermn (@snowskatermn) July 30, 2021
“If we can bring positivity and we can make people happy by showing them nature,” Mah told NPR. “Well, that’s what nature has always done for us before.”