About the Collections

The Scripps Oceanographic Collections at UC San Diego are world-renowned repositories supporting scientific research, educating current and future generations, stimulating curiosity, and supplying information to governmental agencies and public policy makers.

These collections provide the basis for understanding the ocean's biodiversity, the evolutionary history of life on Earth, and the rates and characteristics of climate change. The holdings of the Scripps collections are irreplaceable because they record the state of the ocean environment at specific points in time. The collections are archives of information concerning the present and past states of the world ocean, which furnish the foundation for predicting the future.


The Marine Vertebrate Collection contains approximately 2 million alcohol-preserved fishes, representing more than 5,800 species. This is one of the largest collections of deep-sea and pelagic fishes in the world, as well as one of the premiere collections of shore fishes from the eastern Pacific. 

Euphausia gibboides

The Pelagic Invertebrates Collection is one of the world's preeminent collections of marine zooplankton, housing more than 133,000 whole zooplankton samples. Among these are the remarkable CalCOFI zooplankton time series, which has surveyed the California Current since 1949. 

Specimen of a spiny crab

The Benthic Invertebrate Collection houses more than 45,000 lots, containing more than 800,000 specimens of seafloor-dwelling animals without backbone. The major holdings of the collection are in mollusks and crustaceans, including an extensive barnacle collection from worldwide locations.

Geological Collections

The geological collections are among the largest collections of marine geology samples in the United States. Scripps holds about 7,000 deep ocean cores, about 4,000 dredges of deep-sea rocks, and about 40,000 marine microfossil slides, and a teaching collection of about 10,000 samples of rocks, fossils, and minerals.

Geological Data Center

The Geological Data Center has been archiving and providing access to marine geological data, particularly from Scripps vessels, for more than 40 years. While the collection contains many historic physical artifacts, the current emphasis is on digital data management.