The Icthyology Collection is comprised of over 10,000 registered accessions (lots). A lot may be a single specimen or a number of specimens, of the one species, collected from a certain locality at the same time.
The collection has a strong regional focus, with freshwater fishes of southern and central Australia and Southern Ocean fishes including deep-sea species, well represented.
Biological collections such as this are the ultimate ‘documentation’ of the biodiversity of a region and changes that may occur over time. The oldest South Australian specimens in the fish collection date from the late 1800s and in some cases these species no longer occur at the recorded collecting localities. The collection continues to serve as a repository for specimens collected by current researchers and these voucher specimens are an important means of subsequently verifying or re-analysing results.
Those conducting fish research in South Australia are strongly encouraged to lodge representative samples with the museum.
A small subset of the registered specimens held comprises the extremely important 'Types Collection'. Types are the actual specimens upon which the scientific descriptions of new species are based when published and, as such, are irreplaceable. Types must be lodged with a museum to be retained in perpetuity for taxonomists to re-examine as the need arises. Approximately 200 lots are held in the Ichthyology Types Collection at the South Australian Museum.
Interesting additions to the South Australian fish fauna continue to be documented through the efforts of interested fishermen and beach combers. One recent find of particular significance was of a 1.5 metre Louvar (Luvarus imperialis) washed up on an Adelaide metropolitan beach and collected for the museum by Fletcher Kennedy. This ocean going species grows to 2 metres in length and feeds primarily on jellyfish and plankton. Found around the world in temperate and tropical waters, it is considered rare throughout its range and is very seldom seen in Australian waters. A few have been collected off the east coast but this is the first record of the species from Australia’s southern coast.
To find out more about our collections the data can now be accessed via the Online Zoological Collections in Australian Museums (OZCAM). OZCAM is the key data repository for fauna collections from Australian collections institutions. The same data can also be found at the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) site, where a wide range of biological data from museums, herbaria and even microbiology collections are available online.