STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Are you ready, kids?
"Aye-aye, captain!" would be the proper response from any ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ fan. But you don’t have to dive millions of nautical miles to Bikini Bottom to immerse yourself into the animated series.
You can come face-to-face with Plankton at the Staten Island Zoo in New York. This one-eyed fish is far from the goal of world domination. However, he is swimming once again in his kelp forest thanks to doctors after two months of recovery.
Zoo officials said the 8-year-old gopher rockfish came to the zoo five years ago from a facility in California.
"The species can live up to 30 (years) in aquariums. So we're hoping that he'll be with us for a long time," said Dr. Sarrah Kaye, general curator and veterinarian for the zoo.
Doctors said Plankton had developed inflammation around the eye that was causing it to bulge out of his socket, causing additional damage to the cornea. Popeye disease is a common eye condition in aquarium fish.
"And that's painful for the fish," Kaye said.
After consulting with their medical team and aquarist, the best scenario for Plankton was to surgically remove his eye, which was also the safest way to keep the fish comfortable long term.
Kaye said there's no sign of disease or inflammation in Plankton's functioning eye, and he's able to see and target food. Lookout, Mr. Krabs, this adult species feeds on crustaceans, particularly crabs and shrimp.
Also known as the gopher sea perch, the fish species is found in the Eastern Pacific, primarily off California – far from pineapples under the sea.
"We'll be keeping a close eye on him every year to make sure that he doesn't develop disease in the other eye," Kaye said.
So if nautical nonsense is something you wish, drop on the deck and flop like a fish – Plankton approves.