Porifera collections

A Porifera sponge against a white background

The Natural History Musuem’s extensive Porifera collections are of international importance, containing an estimated 50-70% of the world’s type material. 

Collection strengths

  • Antarctic and Australian material.
  • Deep sea material.

Important historical collections

  • James Scott Bowerbank collection
  • Maurice Burton collection
  • Henry John Carter collection
  • L.R. Crawshay collection
  • Cyril Crossland collection
  • Arthur Dendy collection
  • Duschaissaing and Michellotti type series
  • J.D. Gilchrist collection
  • Robert von Lendenfeld collection
  • Alfred Merle Norman collection
  • Edward Potts collection (freshwater sponges)
  • Charles Darwin's Beagle sponges

Expedition material

  • HMS Challenger (global oceanographic mission 1872-1876)
  • HMS Discovery (Antarctic Investigations 1925-1928)
  • HMS Porcupine (UK waters 186-1870)
  • HMS Beagle (global expedition 1831-1836)
  • Terra Nova Expedition (Antarctica 1910-1913)
  • Terra Nova non-Antarctic expeditions
  • HMS Sealark Expedition (1905)
  • Siboga Expedition (1899-1900)
  • RRS Shackleton (Antarctic 1955-1952)
  • RV Sarsia
  • Cook Bicentenary Expedition
  • Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition (B.A.N.Z.A.R.E. 1929-1931)
  • John Murray Arabian Sea Expedition (1933-1934)

Looking for a specimen?

This collection is being digitised


Dr Tom S. White

If you would like to use any specimens for research, please get in touch

Principal Curator in Charge, Invertebrates (non-insects)

Lauren Hughes

If you would like to use any specimens for research, please get in touch

Specialist reference library

Porifera section library


Find out why our 80 million specimens are a globally important resource for scientific reference and research.