Benthic Invertebrates

Benthic Invertebrates

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography Benthic Invertebrate Collection houses more than 45,000 lots, containing more than 750,000 specimens. This material represents the collecting efforts of Scripps scientists, researchers from other institutions, and donations from private collectors.

The Collection's holdings are worldwide in extent, with focus areas in the eastern Pacific, deep-sea environments (>1,000 m), and chemosynthetic ecosystems (hydrothermal vents, hydrocarbon seeps, whale falls). Samples have been collected with a variety of devices, from intertidal hand collecting and SCUBA to trawls and deep-sea submersibles.

The major holdings of the Collection are in mollusks and crustaceans, including an extensive barnacle collection from worldwide locations. The Collection contains more than 200 type lots used in species descriptions. The searchable electronic database, including a map search feature and specimen images, is publicly accessible online. The Collection houses a systematic reference library and reprint collection.

The Collection supports scientific research by providing specimens for study on the taxonomy, evolution, and ecology of benthic invertebrates. Specimens are available for examination at Scripps and for loan to researchers at recognized institutions worldwide, consistent with our loan policies. The Collection serves as a long-term repository for specimens, including material properly preserved for genomic studies.

Collection materials are also used to support educational programs at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps and as resources for undergraduate/graduate courses and research at Scripps.


Explore the Benthic Invertebrate Collection with Curator Greg Rouse

This video was created for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Master of Advanced Studies in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation (MAS MBC) Film Festival 2018 by students Keighley Lane, Jarrod Ver-steeg, Justin Cruz-leduc, Jeongim Mok, and Cynthia Hsia.



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.

For further details and a gallery of the currently available species, please visit: