Skip to main content.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Website Search Box
{search_item}

Department ofVertebrate Zoology

Division of Fishes

Barracuda
Carl Hansen
© Smithsonian Institution
Ecsenius tricolor
Jeff Williams © Smithsonian Institution

Ichthyology is the study of fishes. Research by staff and associates in the Division covers a broad spectrum of the great diversity of fishes, generally relying on the vast resources of the national fish collection. The fish collection, at the National Museum of Natural History, is the largest in the world, with approximately 540,000 lots (a lot consists of all specimens of a species collected at the same time and place) and about 4 million specimens.

Alt text
Eusphyra blochii (Winghead shark)
Sandra Raredon © Smithsonian Institution


Zoologists from the Systematics Laboratory, National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Department of Commerce, are permanently stationed in the building and work closely with colleagues and specimens at the Museum. These specialists focus primarily on commercially important fishes.

News and Featured Highlights

 

X-Ray Vision: Fish Inside Out

X-Ray Vision: Fish Inside Out

X-Ray Vision: Fish Inside Out explores the diversity and evolution of fish through x-ray images produced by Smithsonian scientists. Although the x-ray images featured in this exhibit were made by Sandra Raredon for research purposes, the strikingly elegant images demonstrate the natural union of science and art. See exhibit web page...


Don't miss the online companion X-Ray Vision viewer created by smithsonianmag.com. To turn sharks, pufferfish, seahorses,and eels inside out click here...

Spencer Baird and Ichthyology at the Smithsonian

Spencer Baird and Ichthyology at the Smithsonian

Learn about the history of ichthyology at the Smithsonian Institution, beginning with a young naturalist named Spencer F. Baird. In this presentation, we describe the people and events that drove the development of ichthyology at the Smithsonian from 1850 to 1900.

The Puffer Fish Voucher Library

The Puffer Fish Voucher Library

Certain species of poisonous puffer fish are considered a culinary delicacy. Under carefully controlled circumstances, puffer fish can be safe to eat, but ingesting even a small amount of their neurotoxins can cause serious illness. Careful control of the market supply of puffer fish meat in the U.S. is required to keep the public safe. Learn how scientists at the Smithsonian Institution and the FDA are collaborating in the development of a DNA voucher library to help prevent mislabeled or illegally imported puffer fish from entering our food supply. Read more...

Charles Bradford Hudson: Blending Art and Science

Charles Bradford Hudson: Blending Art and Science

An article presenting the lifetime work of the artist Charles Bradford Hudson (1865-1939) may seem out of place at the Museum of Natural History. However, a closer look at his many endeavors reveals his role in the field of ichthyology.

Scientific Explorations: The Albatross

Scientific Explorations: The Albatross

One of the largest single acquisitions of fish to the National Museum of Natural History was the material collected by the United States Bureau of Fisheries steamer Albatross in the Philippine Islands from 1907 to 1910. The Philippine Islands have one of the highest levels of marine biodiversity in the world. Learn about this ship and its scientific mission.

Operation Crossroads

The Bikini Atoll Survey "Operation Crossroads," 1946-47

Leonard P. Schultz and Joseph P.E. Morrison were curators and seasoned field collectors at the U.S. National Museum (today called the National Museum of Natural History) in Washington, when, on January 28, 1946, the U. S. Navy asked the Smithsonian to send experts to the Marshall Islands, site of the U.S. government's detonation of an atomic bomb. Find out what Schultz and his fellow zoologists discovered on these remote atolls in the Pacific.

Leonard Peter Schultz:Ichthyologist and Field Naturalist

Leonard Peter Schultz: Ichthyologist and Field Naturalist

Leonard Peter Schultz (1901-1986) came to the Smithsonian in 1936, and oversaw tremendous growth and changes in the Division of Fishes. Learn about this preeminent ichthyologist and the contributions he made to science and the Smithsonian Institution.

[ TOP ]