Spongy Cushion, Codium setchellii

Intimate view, exposed at low tide
Codium setchelii among the reds in the low intertidal

Every time I come across a patch of Codium setchellii I have to pause and take a closer look. The marvelous convolutions of greenish-black spongy cushion evoke feelings like no other algae. It’s a visceral thing – hard to explain. I haven’t discussed it with anyone, but I know I’m not the only one who feels it. I don’t want to speak for them, but I’m pretty sure the folks at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute feel it. In the introduction to their species account they refer to C. setchellii as the encrusting dead man’s fingers; and later, in a more upbeat reference, in the Acknowledgements, you’ll find:

Lastly, thank you Codium setchellii for being such an amazing species to work with.

Codium next to a purple starfish
Spongy cushion, Codium setchellii, exposed in the low intertidal

I agree. From its mesmerizing convolutions, to its rarely-exposed algal and invertebrate associatiations in the low intertidal, C. setchellii is an amazing species to work with. Every velvety blob is worth a closer look.


Harbo, R. M. 2011. Whelks to Whales: Coastal Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest. 2nd ed. Harbour Publishing Co.

Kozloff, E. N. 1993. Seashore Life of the Northern Pacific Coast. 3rd ed. University of Washington Press.

Lamb, A. and B. P. Hanby. 2005. Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest. Harbour Publishing.

Mondragon, J., and J. Mondragon. 2010. Seaweeds of the Pacific Coast. Shoreline Press.

Sept. J. D. 2009. The Beachcomber’s Guide to Seashore Life in the Pacific Northwest. Revised ed. Harbour Publishing.


  1. It makes me think of zombify-ed rock. As in the rock has some twisting disease that is festering. Very cool little algae none-the-less.

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