You might not see them pouting on the front cover of OK! Magazine, but marine life has its own clan of entertainers and global superstars. We introduce eleven celebrity species made famous by television and cinema screens:

Red Jamaican Crab

Sebastian in The Little Mermaid

While they do hatch in the sea and females do return to the water to release their eggs, in real life these Caribbean crabs spend most of their lives on land.

A red Jamaican crab about to drop the next "Ska" beat to light up Disney screens

A red Jamaican crab about to drop the next “Ska” beat to light up Disney screens ©


Spongebob in Spongebob Squarepants

Sponges are generally more sedentary that you might imagine from watching children’s television, and some can host up to 16,000 other animals. I wonder how Mr Squarepants would have felt about that?


The Alien Queen Xenomorph in Aliens

This deep-sea amphipod carves its home in salp, a barrel-shaped gelatinous zooplankton. Unlike the fictional Xenomorph, phronima are absolutely tiny. But the film would have been much shorter if Ripley had just flushed the beast down the sink…

Great White Shark

The star of Jaws

As we have learnt since the hysteria of the 70s and 80s has died down, Carcharodon carcharias are not mindless killers, as people who have freedived with them will testify. They do get through around 30,000 teeth in their lifetime though.

"Any chance of an autograph?" ©

“Any chance of an autograph?” ©

Giant Squid

The Kraken in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Architeuthis have eyes the size of basketballs for detecting light in the staggering depths at which they live – between 300 and 600 metres. Found throughout the world’s oceans, you’ll want Captain Nemo on your team if you’re planning to go and look for one yourself.


Pacific Regal Blue Tang

Dory in Finding Nemo

Like other tang and surgeonfish, the cute, colourful Paracanthurus hepatus has extremely sharp defensive spines in the fins on either side of their tails, resembling surgeons’ scalpels. Don’t mess with Dory.


Nemo in Finding Nemo

Sequential hermaphrodites, the largest male of a group of clownfish will switch its sex when the school needs a new dominant female. I wonder how our lovable hero felt on returning home to find that his dad was now his mum?

Some critics have likened this guy to a young David Hasselhoff ©

Some critics have likened this guy to a young David Hasselhoff ©

Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasse

Oscar in Shark’s Tale

Another gender-bender, groups of Labroides dimidiatus usually consist of an adult male and a harem of females. If the male dies, the largest female changes sex and takes on the male role.

Best friends who stick together through and through ©

Best friends who stick together through and through ©

Sperm Whale

The white whale in Moby Dick

The brain anatomy of Physeter macrocephalus suggests their intelligence may be around 20 times more complex than ours. Interestingly, Moby Dick is based on the true story of the whaling ship the Essex, sunk by a sperm whale in 1820.


Patrick Star in Spongebob Squarepants

Other than being worthy side-kicks, Asteroidia have some amazing skills, including the ability to regenerate limbs and feed by turning their stomachs inside out – not exactly the stuff of children’s programming.

Bottlenose Dolphin


Tursiops truncates use tools, different languages, can categorise objects, and have “double-slit” pupils that enable them to see extremely well in both water and air. Are these the superheroes of the ocean? Warner Brothers certainly thinks so.

This article originally featured in SD OCEAN PLANET “The World of Underwater Film & Television”