Diver photographs ‘Cookie Monster of the Sea’

Stove Pipe Sponge, Aplysina archeri
Photo is courtesy of ©Mauricio Handler/Nationalgeographicstock.com

Scuba divers are often amazed by the beauty of the reefs and their colorful inhabitants, and sometimes they’re even amused.

That certainly was the case for Mauricio Handler and his wife, Julia, during their last adventure to the reefs of Curacao in the Caribbean.

Among their many wonderful discoveries was that of a purple sea sponge that strongly resembled the famous Cookie Monster Muppet of “Sesame Street” fame.

Handler said via email that he had initially swam past the peculiar-looking sponge, without noticing it among the many other sponges on the reef.

But Julia came face to face with what the Handlers now refer to as “The Cookie Monster of the Sea,” and could not contain her laughter.

Cookie Monster image is via the Muppet’s Facebook page

“It was Julia who went to get me, laughing through her mask about the unusual sponge,” Handler said. “So I did an about-face and went straight to it, and worked the subject to light it perfectly to get as much personality out of the picture as possible.”

It was a job well done by the photographer, who said the Cookie Monster was actually three tube sponges that had fused together over time. (Sea sponges, while they may appear to be plant-like, are actually multi-cellular animals that attach to the sea floor, or to reefs, and feed by filtering particles from currents.)

“I could not believe the fact that this was so unusual—so unique and humorous,” added Handler, who was shooting with a Nikon D3 DSLR, and a Nikon 105 macro lens.

The Cookie Monster of the Sea, which was featured earlier this week by the Daily Mail, is about three feet tall and located off Westpunt in northwest Curacao.

It cannot speak, obviously, but Sesame Street fans might imagine what it would be saying if it could: “Me want cookie!”

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