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Marine Vertebrates

Eurypharynx, Zalieutes, and Sternoptyx

The Marine Vertebrate Collection

The Marine Vertebrate Collection of Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) maintains approximately 2 million alcohol-preserved specimens in over 120,000 lots, representing more than 5,600 species of fishes. The majority of our collection is formalin-fixed and stored in 50% ISOPROPANOL. 

The Collection maintains worldwide holdings of deep-sea and pelagic fishes as well as extensive holdings of shore fishes from the entire eastern Pacific. The Collection includes primary types (holotypes) of over 200 species (type catalog), skeletal preparations (both dried and cleared-and-stained) for over 1,000 species (osteology catalog), otoliths from approximately 1,100 species (otolith collection), and tissues for DNA (in 95% ethanol) from over 1,200 species (Please email Collection Manager, Ben Frable, for tissue requests as we do NOT publish these holdings).

The Marine Vertebrate Collection supports scientific research by providing specimens for studies on the taxonomy, evolution, and ecology of fishes. Specimens are available for examination at Scripps and for loan to researchers at recognized institutions (loan policy).

The Marine Vertebrate Collection also plays an integral role in the support of graduate courses and research at Scripps.

Students shelving UCLA specimens


Recently, the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology decided to relinquish its remaining Ichthyological Collection to SIO. The collection includes around 9000 lots accumulated primarily under Dr. Boyd Walker (1949-1980) and later Dr. Don Buth (1980-present). All specimens are stored in 40-45% isopropyl alcohol. The majority of the specimens are from extensive surveys of coastal fishes of central and southern California, Baja California and the Gulf of California, and throughout the Tropical Eastern Pacific from the west coast of southern Mexico to Peru, as well as remote oceanic islands such as the Revillagigedos, Clipperton, and the Galápagos. The UCLA collection also contains some fishes from other regions including the Caribbean, central and western Pacific, Indian, and Southern Oceans. Collection dates range from 1886 through 2011, with the majority of sampling occurring between 1948-1970. Due to the ecological interests of the curators, there is substantial metadata associated with collection events, such as site descriptions, lists of aquatic vegetation and non-fish fauna, illustrations and some photographs. The UCLA collection also contains 154 secondary types and 125 species new to SIO. This material has been recataloged at SIO and the data and specimens are now available for research.


How to Access Collection Data

Collection data for approximately 120,000 lots are available on a variety of platforms. Please check iDigBio or VertNet for the most up-to-date information:



PDFs of fieldsheets and additional metadata are available on our searchable database (Note: last updated 2016)

For tissues requests, please email Collection Manager, Ben Frable.