About the Marine Biodiversity Center | Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

A close-up view of a sea fan or gorgonian (phylum Cnidaria, class Anthozoa, order Octocorallia) with associated fauna.
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Contact Information

Telephone: 213.763.3386

Regina Wetzer
Associate Curator & Director

Kathy Omura
Collections Manager

Jenessa Wall
Assistant Collections Manager

Curator's Cupboards

These special weekend events are your chance to meet members of our curatorial team, ask your own questions, and get a first-hand, up-close look at many amazing curiosities of our collections.
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About the Marine Biodiversity Center

Most species on Earth are animals, and most animals are invertebrates, so most of the Earth’s astonishing biodiversity is in the invertebrate animals. Unlike us, invertebrates are animals without a backbone. In size they range from microscopic copepods to the giant squid. In shape and lifestyle they present stunning variety: from worms to crabs, jellyfish to sponges, sea stars to squid. All of these are marine invertebrates.

The Marine Biodiversity Center is the Museum’s core facility for the curation of these remarkable animals. Collections come to the Museum from a variety of research projects and government agencies. These collections document and archive the particular diversity of the invertebrate fauna both regionally and worldwide. Preserving the specimens and the data associated with them is a challenging and ongoing responsibility of the Museum.

The Marine Biodiversity Center’s staff is dedicated to evaluating the incoming collections, applying the most appropriate curatorial procedures for the specimens, and organizing the collection information. Curated specimens may be maintained by the Marine Biodiversity Center itself or transferred to the holdings of other sections within the Museum.

Marine Biodiversity Center Connections

  • Vernal pool crustaceans: The Natural History Museum is an official repository for specimens of vernal pool crustaceans (including endangered and threatened species) collected as part of California state-permitted surveys. Learn more >>
  • Collaboratory: A collaborative work space at NHM that serves as a venue for interinstitutional and interdisciplinary collaboration between NHM and external researchers. Learn more >>


Southern California Invertebrate Spotlight

 "Black Sea Nettle"

Chrysaora achlyos

This giant jellyfish was described in 1997 by Dr. Joel Martin, Curator of Crustacea at the Natural History Museum. It is the largest invertebrate discovered in the 20th century. Its oral arms can be up to 20 feet long and its tentacles, which are covered in stinging nematocysts, up to 25 feet long. Its sting is painful, but nonlethal to larger animals like humans. The black sea nettle lives along the Pacific Coast from Mexico to Southern California, probably in deep waters, but occasionally appears near the coast in large outbreaks or blooms. Photo by Howard Hall Productions.