Below you’ll see a few examples of common intertidal red algae from exposed surf-swept shores of the northern Oregon coast. These are ones you are likely to encounter on the rocks or in and around tide pools. You’ll also see some of them as drift on the beaches. Most of these are common and easy to identify with the readily available field guides and online resources(see References, below). I’m just trying to provide some alternative looks and a few natural history notes if I can think of something that hasn’t already been said. There are some common greens that provide identification challenges. I’ll show the the tough ones too, in hopes somebody will come along and help me out with proper IDs, or even guesses.

The organization more or less follows Lamb and Hanby (2005), showing species in the order they might be encountered in the field, from highest to lowest in the intertidal. Common names are usually some combination of those in Lamb and Hanby (2005) and Mondragon and Mondragon (2010).I lean on WoRMS for scientific names, and Algaebase when I want to dig deeper. I learn a ton by browsing the pages of Kozloff (1993). All photos are from northern Oregon unless otherwise noted in the caption.

Nori or Laver, Porphyra

Most of my encounters with Porphyra are the limp thalli exposed by the receding tide. To the eye Porphyra is iridescent,  and to the touch it has a rubbery quality. It’s common in the high intertidal, among the acorn barnacles. A heavy growth can make the rocks slippery.


Bald sea hair, Bangia 


Nail brush seaweed, Endocladia muricata

Often called sea moss, Endocladia is one of the common tufts in the high intertidal.


Turkish washcloth, Mastocarpius papillatus

One of the common bladed reds in the upper midlittoral zone.


Black pine, Neorhodomela larix


Bleached brunette, Cryptosiphonia woodii

Cryptosiphonia woodii can be turfy or tufty. My experience is that it’s more delicate and goes a lot limper when exposed than Neorhodomela (above). The branch tips supposedly bleach to a blondish color in the summer, which accounts for the common name, bleached brunette. The other common name, dark branching-tube seaweed, isn’t worth mentioning.


Flat-tipped forked seaweed, Ahnfeltiopsis linearis

Attractive and photogenic, Ahnfeltiopsis linearis is at home with periodic sand burial. Ahnfeltiopsis was featured in Seaweeds in the Sand.


Turkish towel, Chondracanthus exasperatus

When I see Chondracanthus, it’s usually as drift on the sandy beaches. C. exasperatus was featured in a brief older post, Turkish Towel.

Turkish towel, Chondracanthus exasperatus, in the drift line


Red sea leaf, Erythrophyllum delesserioides

Red sea leaf, Erythrophyllum delesserioides


Red fringe, Smithora naiadum


Blue branching seaweed, Gloiocladia laciniata

Fan-shaped blades and a blue-violet iridescence; must be Gloiocladia laciniata



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.

Online Resources for Reds

Netarts Bay Today – reds.

Biodiversity of the Central Coast – reds.

Seaweeds of Alaskareds.