About the Benthic Invertebrate Collection

A slate pencil urchin from the Benthic Invertebrate Collection.
A slate pencil urchin, Heterocentrotus mamillatus, from the Benthic Invertebrate Collection

About the Collection

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography Benthic Invertebrate Collection (SIO-BIC) is an active research repository housing 71,000+ lots, representing 1,000,000+ specimens and 7,600+ species from marine environments worldwide.

The Collection includes extensive holdings from deep-sea environments, chemosynthetic ecosystems (hydrothermal vents, hydrocarbon seeps, whale falls), Antarctica, and the eastern Pacific. Specimens have been collected throughout the history of Scripps since 1903, using a range of techniques from intertidal hand collecting and SCUBA to trawls and deep-sea submersibles. New specimens are constantly being deposited in the course of current research projects and collaborations.

The best represented taxonomic groups are annelids, mollusks, and crustaceans, including the eminent barnacle collection of the late Emeritus Curator Prof. Bill Newman. SIO-BIC contains more than 700 type lots (including more than 120 holotypes) and considerable material properly preserved for genomic studies (tissues in 95% ethanol and ultracold storage).

The searchable electronic database, including a map search feature and specimen images, is publicly accessible online and updated approximately weekly. A less frequently updated version of this dataset is also available through the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and Integrated Digitized Biocollections (iDigBio). Taxonomic identifications and other specimen data are continually reviewed and improved. Please note that this dataset, like those of all natural history collections, may contain errors and omissions reflecting 100+ years of history. Data users are encouraged to contact the collection staff for verification or questions.

SIO-BIC supports scientific research by providing specimens for study of the taxonomy, biogeography, and evolution of marine invertebrates, including the description of many new species. Specimens are available for examination at Scripps and for loan to researchers at recognized institutions worldwide, consistent with our loan policy. SIO-BIC staff and materials also support education and public outreach via undergraduate and graduate classes, school programs, guest lectures, artist collaborations, and exhibits and events at Birch Aquarium.

Name a Species: A Unique Giving Opportunity

Every year, SIO-BIC staff and collaborators discover invertebrate species that are entirely new to science. The scientist who first describes a newfound animal is entitled to name it, and we invite the public to share in this process of discovery by choosing the name of a newly discovered species

The cost to name a newly discovered Scripps species starts at $5,000. You may wish to name a species after your own first and/or last name, as a unique gift for a friend or family member, to honor the memory of a loved one, or to express your creativity.  

Donors who name a species will receive a framed print of their named organism, a personal tour of the Scripps Benthic Invertebrate Collection, and a copy of the scientific publication in which the newly named species is first described.

Your donation supports the research and preservation required to establish your species in the scientific record permanently.

Learn more about opportunities to name a newly discovered species