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 a research repository housing 64,000+ lots, representing 800,000+ 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 using a range of techniques, from intertidal hand collecting and SCUBA to trawls and deep-sea submersibles.

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. This dataset is also available through the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). 

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, the Benthic Invertebrate Collection's Curator, students, and scientific collaborators discover dozens of new species. The scientist who first describes a newfound animal is entitled to name it, and we invite the public to share in this process by choosing a name for selected new species that we discover.

For example, donors may choose a name for themselves or in honor of a friend or family member. We will then formally introduce the name in the scientific publication that establishes the new species permanently.

The cost to name Scripps' newly discovered species starts at $5,000. Donors who name a species will receive a framed print of their named organism, as well as a copy of the scientific publication in which it is first described.