‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ creator Stephen Hillenburg dead at 57

NEW YORK — Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of the animated Nickelodeon show "SpongeBob SquarePants," has died.

Stephen Hillenburg, the writer of a U.S. cartoon 'The SpongeBob SquarePants' poses with its charactor SpongeBob SquarePants at an event held at Tokyo International Anime Fair on March 23, 2006 in Tokyo, Japan.(Junko Kimura/Getty Images)

Nickelodeon confirmed the news in a Tweet on Tuesday.

"We are sad to share the news of the passing of Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants," the network wrote. "Today, we are observing a moment of silence to honor his life and work."

Hillenburg revealed last year that he had been diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease.

According to his IMDB profile, Hillenburg was 57.

He told Variety at the time that he intended to work on his show "for as long as I am able."

"SpongeBob SquarePants" has aired on Nickelodeon since 1999.

The series, about a anthropomorphic sea sponge named SpongeBob and his various underwater-dwelling friends, airs in more than 200 countries and been translated into more 50 languages. It has earned numerous awards during its run, including four Emmy Awards.

Hillenburg earned a special Emmy Award earlier this year for his work in the animation field.

Video produced by Summer Delaney.