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Reed Snorkel

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Elf: How do you know these reeds are hollow?
Kevyn: Reeds are always hollow.

Plucking a hollow reed and using it to breathe while underwater. Often but not exclusively employed by Ninjas in fiction.

This is an example of Reality Is Unrealistic: the major problem is not the pressure, which only becomes a problem as you go really deep (most people are swimming just a few inches below the water, hardly low enough to crush your lungs), but that the width of the reed (or snorkel) needs to get wider the longer the tube is.note  Otherwise you are just rebreathing the same air over and over, which will kill you after long enough. Unless you breathe out into the water — and if you're trying to hide underwater, that defeats the purpose by highlighting your position with bubbles. Hmm... maybe you could do it with two reeds.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Batman Ninja: A flotilla of reed snorkels appears around the Joker's ship in the lake as the Bat clan seemingly surrounds it. The Joker's samurai open up with muskets, only to reveal the snorkels are a feint and connected to Ninja Logs floating the surface.
  • Done in Dragon Ball by Ninja Murasaki during a game of hide-and-seek. Goku finds him and pours hot tea down the reed.
  • In Girls und Panzer, Sugiyama uses it to breathe whilst looking for tanks underwater. Since she isn't trying to hide, she could theoretically have done the "breathe into the water" technique.
  • In Heart Catch Pretty Cure, Cure Marine is trapped inside a water-based Desertarian and quickly panics. Chypre and Coffret come to her rescue and shove a reed inside so Marine can breathe.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, one of DIO's Stand-using assassins hides underground while having his Stand pretend to be a genie. When Polnareff and Avdol find out, they try to flush him out by dropping dirt, rocks, ants, and a spider into the reed. When Cameo endues this, the two men urinate into the tube, at which point Cameo pops up and begs for mercy.
  • Done in Mahoraba during a game of hide-and-seek.
  • Orochimaru does it to listen to Team 7 in the Forest of Death in Naruto; significantly, he isn't underwater.
  • In the Shonen Sunday manga version of Obake No Q Taro episode 1 "Q-chan Tanjou", Shōta (who is playing ninja with some neighborhood boys) hides underwater. Two boys notice the reed Shōta is using and put worms in it. He immediately blows out the worms and surfaces, feeling disgusted.
  • Time Stop Hero: The ninja girl Mikage uses this to hide under sand.
  • Yaiba: during the ninja training under Miyamoto Musashi, Musashi and Yaiba train to resist underwater by hiding in the pond of the Mine mansion, using reeds to breathe. Eventually, Raizo's mother forces them to come out by closing the reed's ends with her fingers.

    Comic Books 
  • Jimmy Olsen used this to hide from an assassin during the lead-up to the New Krypton storyline, with the added complication that the assassin could read minds. The only explanation Jimmy could think of was that all the times his body had been transformed over the years had made his brain impossible to read.
  • In Tomahawk #40, Tomahawk uses this trick to sabotage a canoe race to allow Dan Hunter to win.

    Films — Animation 
  • Robin Hood (1973): When escaping from Prince John's castle, Robin jumps into the moat and is fired upon with arrows, leaving Little John and Skippy to assume he'd perished when his hat bobs up with an arrow through it. As the two weep at Robin's apparent demise, Skippy notices a reed moving along the water, and when Little John investigates, a very much alive Robin squirts water into his face with it.
  • Jeremy in The Secret of NIMH after escaping Auntie Shrew, hiding under a water lily.
  • In Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore uses this tactic to hide from Tigger so as to avoid any more Tigger training.
  • Wreck-It Ralph: Ralph breaths through a pirouline wafer stick while hiding from the cops in a pool of chocolate, making the Darth Vader breathing sound. After they leave, he emerges and mutters, "Chocolate. I hate chocolate."

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Alex Rider: In Point Blanc, Alex hides beneath the surface of a lake, breathing through the barrel of a shotgun.
  • Referenced in one of the Tiffany Aching Discworld books. Miss Tick considers being able to breathe underwater through a hollow reed after being tied up and thrown into a pond an essential survival skill for witches traveling through places where they aren't welcome.
  • The Phantom of the Opera (novel version) not only did this, but he would also sing through it to get people to look overboard so he could pull them under.
  • Various Redwall characters use Reed Snorkels.
  • Sienkiewicz Trilogy: In With Fire and Sword, Skrzetuski does it to get out of besieged Zbaraż and Bring Help Back.
  • Two-Minute Mysteries has a story in which Haledjian's clue that the story is false is this trope. Being himself, he knows that it doesn't work nearly so well in Real Life.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Gilligan's Island episode "Gilligan's Mother-in-Law", Ginger and the Professor are hunting for Gilligan when Ginger notices a reed sticking out of the water.
  • MacGyver (1985): Invoked in "Target MacGyver". Mac uses hollow reeds stuck into a piece of bark and sets it afloat in the water to make the bad guys think they are still in the water.
  • A different take in The Mandalorian episode "Sanctuary" when a mother and her child hide under an upturned wicker basket floating in the water. Fortunately the villains are too busy plundering the village to pay close attention to it.
  • Rated "Plausible" by the MythBusters. They could breathe while remaining concealed underwater using a reed snorkel, and with a little practice they could also make it double as a blowgun, and hit a target above the water.
    • However, they were barely a foot from the surface, which makes their secondary objective of remaining undetected (it was a Ninja episode) pretty difficult in a perfectly still pond.
  • Walt Disney Presents: In "Operation Undersea", an animated segment about the history at diving presents this as man's first advancement in breathing underwater. Unfortunately, he could only go so deep before the change in pressure causes his lungs to collapse.

    Video Games 
  • In Live A Live, Oboromaru, the prisoner, Mimic Mammet (for a few seconds anyway), and any guards patrolling the area use one to breathe in Ode Castle's moat.
  • In Paper Mario: The Origami King, a Ninji found in Shogun Studios forgot to bring a reed for snorkeling class. As part of a Chain of Deals, you can give a soda-drink straw for him to use instead.
  • In Tenchu 2, you can use this to become invisible in the water, which is slightly jarring as the water is depicted as crystal clear.
  • A breathing reed is one of the various items in Terraria, though its use is limited due to the shallowness it requires. You can breathe perfectly for up to three blocks underwater, and double your breath for any further depths. You also can't use any other item while using it, and due to the simplistic way the game handles water physics, you can easily dig air pockets above you even if you're in progress of draining an entire ocean.

    Web Comics 
  • Used in Schlock Mercenary. On an unknown, alien planet.
    Elf: How do you know these reeds are hollow?
    Kevyn: Reeds are always hollow.
    • In that case, the problem is also that the people searching for them have sensors that will detect carbon dioxide being breathed out of the reeds. So Kevyn has Schlock lay over them like the Blob Monster he is, and they breathe out into him so he can absorb the CO2, which incidentally solves the bubble problem.

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: Jimmy, Carl, and Sheen use these in Cindy's swimming pool while on the run from a cop in "Who Framed Jimmy Neutron".
  • In Aqua Teen Hunger Force "Sweet C", Carl angers a bunch of bees and hides in his pool before rising a reed, which the bees enter and tear him apart from the inside.
  • Race Bannon does this while approaching the tribal camp in the Jonny Quest TOS episode "Pursuit of the Po-Ho".
  • Looney Tunes:
    • Sylvester tries this with a lead pipe to catch Tweety, who is stranded by high tide, in "Tugboat Granny". Hilarity Ensues when a seagull decides to roost on the pipe.
    • In the Ralph Wolf and Sam Sheepdog short "Don't Give Up the Sheep", the wolf tries this in order to sneak underwater through a pond, past the sheepdog, to get the sheep. The sheepdog drops a stick of dynamite down the reed.
    • The same "drop a stick of dynamite down the reed" gag is used in yet another Looney Tunes short, "Mouse and Garden", when Sylvester and another cat named Sam are fighting over a mouse. Sam tries to sneak past using a pipe as a Reed Snorkel, but Sylvester has a stick of dynamite. The gag is extended a little bit when Sam twice spits the dynamite out, only for Sylvester to twice throw it back in before it goes boom.
  • A Tom and Jerry short has Tom use one to hide from a swarm of bees. It works until Jerry points the bees in the right direction.
  • Total Drama:
    • The challenge in "Hide and Be Sneaky" is to hide from Chef or reach home base before he catches you. Leshawna hides in the water just below the docks and keeps herself out of sight by breathing through a green reed snorkel complete with lily pad for camouflage. The strategy works and leaves Leshawna the only person to evade Chef.
    • In "Masters of Disasters", a challenge turns into a true drowning risk for the contestants. The only way out is a hatch on the floor, but it needs to be cracked open first and at that point the water is so high that anyone who'd work on finding the code would be slowed down by the need to come up for air. Luckily, Harold has brought along a package of straws taken from breakfast that morning. He has Leshawna link them up for him into one long snorkel so he can work on the hatch without interruption. Courtesy of Harold, everyone gets to live that day.
    • The middle part of the finale in "Lies, Cries, and One Big Prize" requires one of each finalist-helper duo to take the other on their shoulders and wade through a deep mud pool. The one who has to wade through the mud gets a garden hose to breathe through, the other end of which the one on top must hold up above the mud. It also, somehow, serves as a communication line from which the one on top gives directional instructions.

    Real Life 
  • "Brady's Leap". Sam Brady hid underwater breathing through a reed stem while escaping from Indians.


Video Example(s):


Sneaking aboard the Merry

Zoro and Usopp "sneak" aboard the Merry using makeshift snorkels.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

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Main / ReedSnorkel

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