Oh, who lives in a pineapple under the sea… around the Retriever Seamount 200 miles off the New England coast in the Atlantic Ocean?
Well according to one marine biologist, it’s SpongeBob SquarePants and his mate, Patrick Star.
The yellow and pink duo from the iconic children’s cartoon were spotted next to each other by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) remote-controlled submersible launched from the Okeanos Explorer, just as they share the same block in their fictional home of Bikini Bottom.
A starfish expert quickly saw the image taken by the submersible and shared it on Twitter, commenting on the striking resemblance the two lifeforms shared to their cartoon counterparts.
“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,” Mah told Insider.
While discovering the actual location of SpongeBob’s home, the NOAA team were mapping the seamounts and canyons of the Mid-Atlantic, down to the lightless depths were such creatures prefer to live.
About as square a sponge as anyone will ever see (the animals are normally round, oblong, or in no shape whatsoever), Mah identified the sponge as the genus Hertwigia, which normally appears white or orange to camouflage with their environment.
He also identified the starfish seen idly by his fictional neighbor as Chondraster, which are known to be pink, and which use suction cups on the underside of their limbs to scoot around the ocean floor.
Those blessed with memories of the show will remember the few episodes that take place in “Rock Bottom,” a scary town filled with bottom-dwelling fish, representing the Benthic Zone.
That’s more like it as far as real sponges and stars are concerned, and where the submersible was going when it spotted the real-life versions.
Additionally, while Patrick and SpongeBob were inseparable companions in the show, the real relationship between these organisms is rather more like that of a lion and a wildebeest. Starfish are predators, and eat sponges if they can find them.
Along with this delightful discovery, the Okeanos Explorer hopes to uncover many more secrets of the North Atlantic depths through the ASPIRE program of scientific pursuit and discovery.