LOOK it’s a coral, no it’s a tumbleweed, no it’s a rhodolith!

A rare rhodolith bed, found at only 6 bays/coves in Catalina. (photo: S. Gabara)

Imagine tubleweeds spread across the ocean floor.  If you make them purple/pink and living, then you have a rhodolith bed.  Rhodoliths are hard calcareous algae which have broken from the ground and formed a bed with other individuals.  Many invertebrates and algae species associate with this habitat.  Rhodoliths are a hot study subject in Europe, where they are used as a soil conditioner.

This white urchin recruit may use rhodoliths as a way to hide from predators. (photo: S. Gabara)