The Mollusca Collection at Te Papa is the largest and most comprehensive in the country and comprises about 335,000 sample lots and several million specimens. Its scope is worldwide, with its greatest strength in specimens from the New Zealand region, including the Kermadec Islands, Norfolk Island, the subantarctic islands, and the Antarctic.
In the collection, there are more than 2900 named species from the New Zealand Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and at least 1600 undescribed species from the region. Our collections of deep-sea and terrestrial species are particularly strong, and we hold one of the finest regional collections of cephalopoda - octopuses, squids, cuttlefish, and so on - in the world. It includes rich collections of deep-sea species, and parts and whole specimens of several giant squids.
Most specimens are stored dry, but there are also thousands of sample lots stored in alcohol for use in anatomical and DNA research. Excellent facilities include the most comprehensive library on mollusca in the country, wet laboratories, and visitor workstations and microscopes. There are also dedicated computers for classification (cladistic analysis), image processing, measurement, and image acquisition.
The collection is used by researchers from throughout the world. These researchers carry out studies on the evolution of mollusca in the New Zealand EEZ, biogeography, and systematics. The collections are also used for the monitoring and recognition of accidentally introduced species and of faunal changes due to pollution, climate change, land use, fisheries, and so on.
Our mollusc collection and research