Marine scientists spotted a 'real-life' SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick Star near an underwater mountain in the Atlantic

NOAA scientists use remote-operated vehicles to photograph and explore deep-sea habitats.An expedition discovered a sea star and a sea sponge together in the Atlantic on Tuesday.One scientist pointed out that these two animals look a lot like Patrick Star and SpongeBob SquarePants.Insider Healthcare: The latest news and analysis in healthcare. Loading Click Sign up to receive marketing emails and other offers from Insider.SpongeBob SquarePants might be dressed in classy garb but real-life sea sponges don't wear pants. Swim trunks are not acceptable for sea stars like Patrick, SpongeBob’s partner-in crime.Christopher Mah, a marine scientist, quickly noticed the similarities between the Nickelodeon cartoon characters as well as a real-life yellow sponge or pink sea star deep beneath the Atlantic waves. The colorful pair were spotted by a remotely-operated deep-sea vehicle on Tuesday at the side of the Retriever seamount, 200 miles east from New York City."I usually avoid these refs... but WOW. "REAL LIFE SpongeBob, Patrick!" Mah is a researcher associated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.NOAA's Okeanos Explorer ship will send remotely-operated vehicles, like the one that discovered the star and sponge more than a mile beneath the Atlantic's surface. ROVs are used to explore subterranean habitats and livestream their journeys. They also capture images of denizens deep below the surface.SpongeBob SquarePants. Press Office of Iranian Supreme Leader/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images; YouTube/SpongeBobSquarePantsofficialMah shared the following email with Insider: "I thought it would make a funny comparison. Which for once was actually kinda comparable to the iconic images/colors that the cartoon characters." "Most depictions of Patrick or Spongebob, as a biologist who is specialized in sea stars are wrong," Mah said via email.Comparison of Patrick and SpongeBob to their real-life counterpartsThere are over 8,500 species, and they have lived in the ocean for 600 million years. They have different shapes and textures depending on whether they live on hard or soft sand.They are very few that resemble SpongeBob’s boxy shape.SpongeBob SquarePants, Patrick Star. Paramount PicturesMah explained that the sponge-like SpongeBob in the photo belonged to the genus Hertwigia. Its bright yellow color was a surprise to Mah, which is not common for deep sea creatures. To camouflage in dimly lit environments, many things at this depth are either orange or white.A Chondraster Grandis sea star in North Atlantic in 2014. NOAAChondraster is a sea star that's nearby. It has five arms, each covered in tiny suckers. These suckers allow the sea star to crawl across the ocean floor, attaching itself to rocks and other organisms. The colors of Chondraster stars are light, dark, and white.Mah stated that the star's color was "a bright pink that strongly evoked Patrick."Carnivores are sea stars. Once one is clinging to a snail, clam, oyster or clam, the animal will extend its stomach through its mouth and use enzymes to digest its prey.Mah stated that sea sponges are a popular Chondraster star menu item. The pink Patrick-like creature that was scooting near the sponge probably had food in mind, and not friendship.Below is an image taken last week by NOAA as part of the same expedition. It shows a white seastar, most likely a Chondraster preying upon a sponge.A sea star, most likely a Chondraster eating a sea sponge at the Macgregor seamount, Atlantic Ocean. Christopher Mah/NOAADeep-sea habitats of these creatures are frozen; there is no sunlight.They live "in a true abyssal of the ocean", Mah stated, "well below what we think of as the depth where Patrick and SpongeBob live."Sharing images from the depth2015: Sea sponges and corals in the Pacific Ocean, near the Hawaiian Islands. NOAAMah, a specialist in sea stars, works at Smithsonian Museum and hopes to use footage taken by Okeanos ROVs for new species identification.The program has allowed researchers to explore the ocean depths below the Hawaiian Islands and US Pacific Island territories. NOAA's ROVs are capable of traversing deep-sea canyons and sea mounts as well as other habitats.Mah stated that they have explored depths up to 4,600 meters (15,000 feet or nearly 3 miles) and discovered a wide variety of ocean life including starfishes and sponges. Many of these are unknown species, and therefore new to science.He said, "Some of this is very alien and in certain cases bizarre."