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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 isnote . 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 
  • Orochimaru does it to listen to Team 7 in the Forest of Death in Naruto; significantly, he isn't underwater.
  • Done in Mahoraba during a game of hide-and-seek.
  • Also done in Dragon Ball by Ninja Murasaki during a game of hide-and-seek, which is the Image Source above. 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sienkiewicz Trilogy: In With Fire and Sword, Skrzetuski does it to get out of besieged Zbaraż and Bring Help Back.
  • Encyclopedia Brown has a story in which Encyclopedia'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.
    • The author, Donald J Sobol, also uses this in a story with Dr. Haledjian.
  • Various Redwall characters use Reed Snorkels.
  • Alex Rider: In Point Blanc, Alex hides beneath the surface of a lake, breathing through the barrel of a shotgun.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
  • The page quote comes from 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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 
  • 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".
  • Sylvester tries this with a lead pipe to catch Tweety, who is stranded by high tide, in one Looney Tunes short. Hilarity Ensues when a seagull decides to roost on the pipe.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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".

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


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