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Casual audiences and SpongeBob SquarePants fanatics alike are well aware of who Plankton is and the pesky characters’ overall role in the series. With many of the starring characters featured in the show relatively easy to connect with their real-life animal counterparts—Plankton, on the other hand, is not so straightforward. So, what animal is Plankton from SpongeBob?

What Animal is Plankton From SpongeBob?

what type of animal is plankton

In Nickelodeon’s animated hit SpongeBob SquarePants, Plankton, the well-known adversary to Mr. Krabs, is a subspecies of zooplankton dubbed a copepod. Copepods are tiny sea creatures—typically between 1-2 mm long, amassing a tear-shaped body with large antennae, numerous legs, and a segmented tail.

What are Copepods?

Copepods are a denomination of small crustaceans established in almost every body of water. There are varying species, some of which are planktonic, meaning they inhabit sea waters. These fascinating creatures live underground in marine and freshwater caves, sinkholes, or stream beds. Marine biologists sometimes use copepods as biodiversity indicators.

Copepods are essentially required for any reef aquarium to thrive. These sea scavengers enact several important ecological tasks, including grazing on microalgae, scavenging detritus, and serving as food for a myriad zooplanktivores.

What is Plankton’s Role in SpongeBob SquarePants?

Plankton is married to Karen, who together own and operate an unsuccessful competitor restaurant to the Krusty Krab dubbed the Chum Bucket. Plankton and Karen frequently scheme to steal the secret Krabby Patty recipe, but Mr. Krabs and his loyal employees invariably deter their efforts.

Plankton first makes his appearance in the legendary show in the episode “Plankton!” which debuted on July 31, 1999. Plankton and his wife Karen are derived from the creative mind of series creator and marine biologist Stephen Hillenburg. However, many still wondered what animal is Plankton from SpongeBob? While that answer remained unclear at first, it became apparent that Hillenburg actually named Karen after his real-life wife, Karen Umland.

Mr. Lawrence, who voices Plankton, once translated the character’s origins by saying that he was initially intended to be involved in the storyline for one or two episodes. However, after his inaugural voice recording as Plankton, Lawrence crafted a few suggestions for the character and presented them to Hillenburg. Afterward, Plankton began showing up more often, rising to become a series regular when season three rolled around. As the character grew in popularity, so did the question of what animal is Plankton from SpongeBob?

Is Plankton All Evil?

Plankton’s roles are not entirely contentious, however. The tiny creature seems to have a friendly relationship with SpongeBob throughout the series—as long as business is not involved. In The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, Plankton partners with SpongeBob, originally to safeguard himself from an angry crowd, but slowly warms up to SpongeBob throughout the film. Hillenburg considers Plankton as more aligned with a caricature of a villain rather than encompassing a genuinely evil personality.

So while Copepods have a beneficial purpose in real-life marine biology, in Plankton’s case, the fictionalized copepod seemingly exists to contest Mr. Krabs and invoke general mayhem—although there is likely much psychology to explore beneath the characters’ surface. At least the answer is now clear, answering the puzzling question of what animal is Plankton from SpongeBob?

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