"Konar and Katrin Iken, assistant professors of marine biology with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Institute of Marine Science, accidentally dropped a small strainer, or sieve, overboard. The scientists had been conducting nearshore surveys of marine life as part of an international study sponsored by the Census of Marine Life NaGISA program and funded by the Gulf Ecosystem Monitoring program.
"A sieve is worth about $75, so we wanted to get it back," said Konar. "We descended into about 60 feet of water and found the sieve right away. But then I noticed these little pink tumbleweeds everywhere. I thought I was looking at a rhodolith bed, but rhodolith beds had never been described in Alaska. We were shocked to see how many there were down there.""
Rhodoliths are a kind of coralline red algae that deposit calcium carbonate within their cell walls, forming hard structures that closely resemble beds of coral. Unlike coral, rhodoliths do not attach themselves to the rocky seabed, but drift like tumbleweeds along the seafloor until they grow heavy enough to settle and form brightly coloured beds. Rhodoliths photosynthesise.
Rhodoliths have never been documented in Alaska.
From a Science Daily report.