Coral Life in Two Dimension

Submitted by mumunmumun on 10 March 2013   •  Opinion

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It’s surprising to see that so many Indonesians feel detached from the ocean and coral life. We’re an archipelago and surrounded by water, saltwater to be exact. People always consider water activities such an effortful thing, when in fact it’s not far from them or at times it might be under their noses. Indonesia should be very connected to water activities and the lives that it holds within it.

As an over grown child, I’m still a big fan of cartoons. Having said that, Indonesians, including me, have been exposed to the underwater life more often that we thought through cartoons. Of the many, some have taken us underwater naming a few: Spongebob Squarepants, Shark Tale, and Finding Nemo. The thing about underwater cartoons is that although most of us would think that it’s all made up, it is actually based on real underwater life. After diving Indonesia a few times, I’ve come to realize how genius these two dimensional form of art are. And because I studied Biology, everything comes somewhat natural for me (I had a low GPA so it still ‘somewhat’). So let’s break it down! *start to boogie*

Spongebob Squarepants

Spongebob might be manifested as a dish washing sponge but the truth is he is a part of the sponge species underwater. Poriferas are organisms that have pores all over their bodies to let nutrition pass through, much like how Spongebob eats. Sponges are really beautiful in real life. They have shapes and color like art. However, I’m pretty sure Stephen Hillenburg made Spongebob more of a sponge just so people get it (or for the fun it. Who knows?!) Most of the other characters are also based on real creatures living underwater such as Patrick the obvious pink fat starfish underwater, Squidward the squid and has tentacles like a squid, Plankton being the smallest, Mr. Krabs, etc. Of course, Sandy Cheeks is the anomaly of the bunch but hey, a little animated insanity in a cartoon is like a cherry on the top.

Coral life

Image taken from

Weh Island

An example of a live sponge.

Sharks Tale

On Sharks Tale, there are countless underwater facts made to story material. Oscar is the main character in the form of a bluestreak cleaner wrasse from the Labroides family. It works at a carwash. His father functioned as a tongue scrubber. The reality is that there are places around the world that act as cleaning stations for numerous fish and there are fish that clean other fishes. These stations are where you can have less effort to find creatures such as Manta Rays and Sunfishes that can afford to get cleaned by others. The cleaning fish are also a wonder. I’ve observed it on a reef at Pulau Tiga, Riung, and found myself fascinated. Other fish come by to its station to get cleaned. It was like seeing a car wash entrepreneur starting its own business and having regulars coming over to get their dead skin and ectoparasites removed. I think I was hypnotized by it for about 20 minutes. Aside, cleaner fishes are really beautiful in metallic blue. I guess the insanity of Sharks Tale was the vegetarian-want-to-be-dolphin shark. Like come on!

Nusa Penida

Manta at Nusa Penida cleaning station.

Finding Nemo

I learned the term ‘drop off’ from Finding Nemo and I’ve used the term ever since. Nemo is packed with knowledge about the sea starting from the clownfish. Yes, they are amongst the very few creatures that can live and breed in anemones (anemoninies as Nemo pronounce it). They can live symbiotically with the soft coral. If you think they’re friendly and greeting you when you approach, think again. They are actually defensive and strictly protecting their home. I’ve also learned about the Easter Australian Current from Crush (the turtle) and family. I also believe there is no better way to describe turtles as laid back beings resembling surfer dudes. Granted, regal blue tangs (Dory) won’t have short-term memory loss but I’m sure they can really talk to whales.

Dive in Makassar

Finding Nemo

The ‘drop off’ taken from


All in all, if people would have more appreciation towards underwater cartoons, I’m sure they would learn a whole deal on the ocean. These cartoons are no myth. There is life underwater. It’s no different to ours. It’s an ecosystem; a neighborhood. There are many activities in it and life is harmonious with the eat-be-eaten balance. Because these cartoons are based on intellectual details I can always repeatedly watch them and learn something new every time.

Guess what?! When I was browsing about Spongebob I found out that Bikini Bottom is based on the Bikini Atoll at the Pacific Oceans, part of the Micronesia Islands. ‘Bikini’ comes from the Marshallese word Pikinni, which means, guess what, pineapple place. Well, hello!


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7 years 3 months ago

whoa…. a cool piece of article…
those toons are really teaching us so many things about the great blue…