Stephen Hillenburg used his loves of drawing and marine biology to develop the underwater world of Bikini Bottom. On Tuesday, the man who created SpongeBob SquarePants died at the age of 57. The devastating news was confirmed by the network that has broadcast the hugely popular cartoon series since 1999, Nickelodeon.

According to the company, Hillenburg's cause of death was motor neurone disease (also known as ALS), a condition he revealed he had been diagnosed with in March last year.

Hillenburg graduated from Humboldt State University in 1984 with a bachelor's degree in Natural Resource Planning and Interpretation, emphasizing on marine resources. It allowed him to become a marine biology teacher at the Orange County Marine Institute (now the Ocean Institute) in Dana Point, California. Combine this experience with the Master of Fine Arts he earned in 1992 and you'll understand why Hillenburg was so good at creating stories as teaching tools.

SpongeBob Squarepants has aired nearly 250 episodes to date. And the way the fans of the show are mourning Hillenburg's passing is clear that he and his work won't be forgotten. Since hearing the shocking news, people have been sharing the tributes they have created in honor of the animator who is survived by his wife of 20 years, Karen, and son Clay. Bored Panda has collected some of them, inviting you to pay your respects.

(h/t variety)

#1 Stephen Hillenburg Tribute

Stephen Hillenburg Tribute

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João Ferreira 2 weeks ago

OK, this one hit me right in the feels.

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#2 Rest In Peace, Stephen Hillenburg

Rest In Peace, Stephen Hillenburg

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Ayel 2 weeks ago

this is so heartbreaking :(

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#3 We're Saddened To Hear That Stephen Hillenburg, Creator Of

We're Saddened To Hear That Stephen Hillenburg, Creator Of

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Anna Lourie 2 weeks ago

says Hillenburg, the ocean biologist :)

#4 Stephen Hillenburg Was A Real Inspiration For Me. He Took A Goofy Idea And Turned It Into One Of The Greatest Cartoons In Animation History

Stephen Hillenburg Was A Real Inspiration For Me. He Took A Goofy Idea And Turned It Into One Of The Greatest Cartoons In Animation History

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#5 I’ve Always Wanted To Live In A Pineapple Under The Sea Rip Stephen Hillenburg

I’ve Always Wanted To Live In A Pineapple Under The Sea Rip Stephen Hillenburg

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Anne Kjær-Kammersgaard 3 weeks ago

Poor Gary :'( This one breaks my heart.

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#6 Stephen Hillenburg’s Passing Caught Me By Complete Surprise I Cannot Thank Him Enough For Enlightening My Childhood With Spongebob Squarepants. Rest Easy, Sir

Stephen Hillenburg’s Passing Caught Me By Complete Surprise I Cannot Thank Him Enough For Enlightening My Childhood With Spongebob Squarepants. Rest Easy, Sir

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OOF 3 weeks ago

So sad

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#7 Stephen Hillenburg Tribute

Stephen Hillenburg Tribute

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OOF 3 weeks ago

So sad

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#8 Thank You Stephen Hillenburg

Thank You Stephen Hillenburg

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Andres Washington 2 weeks ago

Dang this sad as fluff

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#9 Why Are You Leaving Us So Soon? Rip Stephen Hillenburg (1961-2018)

Why Are You Leaving Us So Soon? Rip Stephen Hillenburg (1961-2018)

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OOF 3 weeks ago (edited)

It's ok spongebob, ur always something

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#10 Working On Some Tribute Art For Stephen Hillenburg

Working On Some Tribute Art For Stephen Hillenburg

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Meowton Mewsk 2 weeks ago

I like the spirit of this one.