On this page...


The Australian Museum Marine Invertebrate collection contains over 511,000 specimens and lots. The collection dates from the 1800s and is one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, it contains both wet and dry preserved specimens, microscope slides, Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) preparations, photographic images, books and journals. The collection is a base for active (mainly taxonomic) research carried out by scientists in the museum, institutions within Australia and around the world.

The Collection

The Australian Museum Marine Invertebrate collection includes over twenty major groups of marine invertebrates with the exception of molluscs (please see the Malacology collection for more information). The collection also includes freshwater and terrestrial representatives. Taxa represented include, Annelida, Bryozoa, Cnidaria, Ctenophora, Crustacea, Echinodermata, Nematoda, Nemertea, Platyhelminthes, Porifera, Pycnogonida, Tunicata, and various other phyla including protozoans. Particular strengths are the number and diversity of samples for the Annelida, Crustacea and Echinodermata.

The collection includes over 13,000 type specimens (those on which the scientific description of a species is based). Material is housed both at the main Sydney CBD museum site and the Castle Hill Discovery Centre, and represents one of the oldest, largest, most diverse and best-studied assemblages of Australasian and Indo-Pacific invertebrate taxa. The collection has a focus on material from Australia, particularly New South Wales, but also has strong holdings for most taxa across the Indo-Pacific region as well as important samples from other international locations.

Approximately 46% of the collection has been digitised by staff and volunteers. Photographic images of the specimens have been taken and their records uploaded on to the Museum’s digital database. This task is ongoing and increases each time new material is added to the collection.

Loans and donations: The Marine Invertebrate group processes loan requests and welcomes donations of marine invertebrate material.

Get involved: Volunteers to assist with the curation of museum collections are always in demand.

For loan requests and volunteering opportunities please find out more by contacting our Collection Manager.

International Research Hub

The Marine Invertebrate collection is an important resource for the researchers working in the museum. Research within the department currently covers shrimps, crabs, amphipods, isopods, cnidarians, annelids and many other taxa. The department is a centre for collaboration with universities and scientific institutions around Australia and around the world. Many honours, masters and doctoral students work with the research staff and the museum collections.

Researchers at the museum organise and participate in collection expeditions within Australia and internationally, from the shallow waters of Sydney Harbour to the deep-sea seamounts off the south coast of Tasmania. The Marine Invertebrates department is also actively involved in Citizen Science projects, such as ‘Upside-down Jellyfish in Lake Macquarie’.