Marine Invertebrate Collection

Curator: Alexander Alyakrinsky.

1 083 specimens - mainly corals, echinoderms and sponges collected during expeditions to the Pacific of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1971 and in 1977.


Most corals belong to the Madreporaria order, which forms the basis of the tropical coral reef ecosystem, providing shelter and food for many marine animals. These corals are the main "culprits" for specific coral islands – atolls- to appear. The origin of the latter at one time was brilliantly explained by Charles Darwin. Unfortunately, it is technically very difficult to maintain the complete colony of Anthozoa. Therefore, museums mainly store their calcareous skeletons. The most remarkable of them are representatives of the Acroporidae family, having bizarre branchy shapes.

Of special interest are brain-like corals of the family Faviidae. The skeletons of all these corals are white. However, in the museum’s collection there is a coral with a blue skeleton - Heliopora coerulea- the only representative of the helioporidae family (Helioporidae).

In total, the museum collection holds 470 coral specimens.


Echinoderms are represented by starfish, sea urchins, brittle stars or ophiuroids, and sea cucumbers. The majority of the echinoderm collection is starfish with a total of 360 specimens. Among them, a long series of large sea stars Protoreaster nodosus (72 specimens) collected on the tropical islands of the Pacific Ocean. This star, which has numerous massive spikes, has a pronounced individual variability.

Of ecological interest is the crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) with venomous thorn-like spines, which preys upon hard, or stony, coral polyps and damages huge sections of coral reefs.


Brittle stars or serpent stars - a group of invertebrates that got its name due to long, filiform, sometimes branchy rays. Unlike predatory sea stars, brittle stars feed on plankton or detritus.


Sea urchins are of great variety. The collection contains the so-called “drilling” sea urchins which make burrows for themselves in coral reefs, as well as the common sand dollar - Echinarachnius parma – a round plate with very short, barely noticeable needles, and the slate pencil urchin - Heterocentrotus mammilatus - with massive, thick, faceted needles, etc.


A selection of sponges (113 specimens) is represented by both marine and freshwater species. Among the sea sponges, of certain interest are representatives of Ianthellidae family, a wide range of which was collected on the Admiralty Islands in the Pacific Ocean, as well as the very large glass sponge Rossrlla sp.

Among freshwater sponges, the most notable is Lubomirskia baikalensis - a freshwater species of sponge endemic to Lake Baikal, Russia. These sponges are branched and reach a height of more than one meter.

Individual variability of the starfish Protoreaster nodosus Lam.

Alcyonacea, or soft corals (Gorgonaria sp.).