The geographic emphasis for the fish collection focuses on the tropical Indo-Pacific region, with additional holdings from the tropical Eastern Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
Currently, the collection includes over 40,000 cataloged lots of coral-reef fishes, with a geographic emphasis on the Indo-Pacific region, and a habitat emphasis on fishes from tropical coral reefs. Most specimens are preserved in 55% Isopropyl alcohol, and are contained in glass jars. About half of the lots contain only a single specimen, but some lots contain over 100 specimens (average 2.8 specimens per lot, or about 100,000 specimens total). The collection also includes many large specimens contained in stainless steel or fiberglass bins, the largest of which is the Holotype of the Megamouth Shark (Megachasma pelagios).
Ichthyological research at Bishop Musuem has primarily focused on the taxonomy, systematics and biogeography of coral-reef fishes throughout the vast Indo-Pacific region. While the collection does house specimens from freshwater, pelagic, and deep-sea environments, the overwhelming majority of of the collection was accumulated through the research career of Dr. John E. “Jack” Randall. Jack has authored more publications (880) and has discovered and documented more new species of coral-reef fishes (815), than any ichthyologist in history. He has also published landmark studies on food habits, mimicry, hybridization, and reproductive biology of fishes, and was instrumental in understanding the cause of Ciguatera fish poisoning. Now in his 90’s Jack continues to actively produce important scientific works.
Jack’s protégé, Dr. Richard L. Pyle, began working in the Museum’s ichthyology collection in 1986 and continues to to follow his mentor’s lead in exploration and discovery on tropical coral-reefs throughout the Indo-Pacific. In particular, he has pioneered the use of mixed-gas closed-circuit rebreather technology to explore coral-reef habitat at depths below where conventional SCUBA can be safely used. These efforts have led to the discovery of more than a hundred new species of fishes, as well as helped foster an international recognition of the deep coral-reef environment, variously known as the Coral-Reef “Twilight Zone” or, more recently, “Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems”.
Richard L. Pyle, Ph.D., Associate Zoologist, Database Coordinator
Arnold Y. Suzumoto, Ichthyology Collections Manager
To request a back of house collection tour please fill out our online Natural Sciences Collection Tour Request Form
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