SpongeBob SquarePants creator Stephen Hillenburg has died aged 57, Nickelodeon has said.
The beloved cartoon was created by Mr Hillenburg in 1999 and created a multimedia franchise spanning TV and movies.
The children's television network, Nickelodeon, said: ‘We are sad to share the news of the passing of Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants.
‘Today, we are observing a moment of silence to honor his life and work.’
In March 2017, he said he had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – in a statement released at the time he said he would continue to work on SpongeBob SquarePants for ‘as long as [he is] able’.
Who was Stephen Hillenburg?
He was an American cartoonist and animator – his first professional job in the animation industry was as a director for Rocko's Modern Life, which was Nickelodeon’s first in-house produced cartoon.
It ran from 1993 to 1996.
His love of the ocean then led him to create SpongeBob SquarePants – originally known as Bob the Sponge.
He leaves behind a wife Karen and a son Clay – a drummer who he used to jam with a make ‘noisy rock music’.
What is SpongeBob SquarePants?
SpongeBob is an American cartoon, which has gone on to become one of the longest-running on Nickelodeon as well as the highest rated – it has spawned video games, a Broadway musical and two movies – the SpongeBob SquarePants movie in 2004 and a sequel The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water released in 2015.
The series followed the adventures of SpongeBob SquarePants, an energetic and optimistic sea sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea with his pet snail Gary as well as his friend Patrick the Starfish.
SpongeBob also works as a fry cook at Krusty Krab restaurant.