The Florida Museum Fish Collection contains more than 236,000 catalogued lots (approximately 2,450,650 specimens), representing more than 9,000 species.

In addition, there is an unsorted backlog of about 12,000 lots (about 120,000 specimens). Most of the uncatalogued and backlog material was acquired through transfer of the important collections previously housed at the National Marine Fisheries Service biological laboratories in Miami; Pascagoula, MS; and the University of Miami. The Florida Museum of Natural History ichthyology collection contains primary and secondary types of more than 950 taxa of freshwater and marine fishes.

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The osteological collection is comprised of 2500 lots of disarticulated skeletons representing over 320 species. Skeletal holdings emphasize the southeastern United States, Caribbean, Central American and northwestern South American ichthyofaunas.

Representative specimens of over 700 species have been cleared and stained. A radiograph collection and the original field notes of numerous individuals and organizations, including station sheets for virtually all U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/National Marine Fisheries Service and University of Miami research vessels, are maintained.

The principal strengths of the Florida Museum fish collection are, in approximate order of importance, its holdings of (1) western and eastern Atlantic shelf and deepwater marine fishes, (2) western Atlantic reef fishes, (3) North American freshwater fishes, especially from the southeastern United States, and (4) freshwater fishes from certain parts of Central America, South America and the West Indies. Of the above, categories (1), and (2) are nearly equal in importance.

Future Growth

New collections by the staff and students, as might be expected, center on their areas of research interest. Federal and state biological agencies, academic researchers, and consulting firms are also major depositors. Areas of highest growth are (1) freshwater fishes from the southeastern United States, the Greater Antilles, Central America and northern South America, (2) estuarine and marine collections from the southeastern United States, the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, and (3) elasmobranch material from throughout the world.

Acquisition of large holding tanks has facilitated the collection and accessions of large specimens, especially sharks and marine teleosts. The U.S. Geological Survey’s Florida Caribbean Science Center has been particularly active in surveying Southeast U.S. freshwater fishes and their valuable collections are continually accessioned into the Florida Museum collection. Other frequent sources of donations include federal and state agencies, numerous individuals associated with universities, and consulting firms.