Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum Frankfurt

Marine Invertebrates II

The polychaete collection of the Senckenbergmuseum is available on the internet through SeSam. The transfer of the database was kindly made possible through generous financial support by the Walter and Erika Datz Foundation and the German Science Foundation (DFG). For an introduction on how to use SeSam please have a look at the bottom of the page.

The collection comprises mainly specimens of the following regions and expeditions:


  • South Georgia and subantarctic islands ( coll. L. Kohl-Larsen 1929)
  • USA, Georgia (coll. J. Dörjes 1966-1980)
  • New Foundland Bank ( coll. J. Prena 1994)
  • French coasts of the Atlantic and The Channel ( Roscoff , France) ( coll. D. Fiege, R. Barnich and T. Wehe 1994, 1996, 2003)
  • Angola Basin, (METEOR-cruise 48/1, DIVA 1 Latitudinal Gradients of Biodiversity in the Abyssal Deep-sea of the Angola Basin) ( coll . D. Fiege, R. Barnich, B. Hilbig and G. Purschke 2000)
  • North Atlantic, Iceland (METEOR-cruise 85/3, IceAGE) (coll. D. Fiege, K. Meißner and A. Murray)

  • North Sea

  • German Bight (coll. J. Dörjes 1966-1980)
  • North Sea (Mapping of  Epizoobenthos) ( coll. M. Türkay 1977-1990)

  • Mediterranean Sea

  • Gulf of Gaeta , Italy (coll. J. Dörjes 1966-1980)
  • Banyuls-sur-mer, France ( coll. D. Fiege and R. Barnich 1995, 1997)
Western Mediterranean Sea (Depro; Urania CS 96; Etang de Thau ) ( coll. H. Zibrowius 1997, 1998

Eastern Mediterranean Sea (METEOR-cruise 5/1) ( coll. M. Türkay 1987);  (METEOR-cruise 25/1) (coll. D. Fiege and N.M. Ben-Eliahu 1993)

Egean Sea (METEOR-cruise 40/3) (coll. D. Fiege and R. Barnich 1997/8)

Crete ( coll. D. Fiege and R. Barnich 1998)

  • Red Sea

  • MeSedA = Metalliferous Sediment Development Atlantis II Deep ( coll. H. Thiel and M. Türkay 1977)
  • Comparative Ecological Analysis of Biota and Habitats of the Sudanese Red Sea ( coll. D. Fiege 1992)


  • Indo-Pacific

  • Indoaustralian Archipelago, Aru- und Kei-Islands ( coll. H. Merton 1908)
  • Hanseatic Expedition to southern Seas  ( coll. E. Wolf 1909-1911)
  • Madagascar (coll. R. Plante and B. Thomassin 1965-1970)
  • Taiwan (coll. J. Dörjes 1966-1980)
  • California ( coll. J. Dörjes 1966-1980)
  • The Gulf (Establishment of a Marine Habitat and Wildlife Sanctuary for the Gulf Region, Saudi Arabia) ( coll. D. Fiege 1991)
  • Biodiversity of marine Biota of the Island of Hainan, South China Sea ( coll. D. Fiege and Sun Ruiping 1992)
  • hot vents Pacific ( coll. H. Sahling 1996)
  • Socotra ArchipelagoV.R. Jemen ( coll. T. Wehe 2000)
Hot vents of the North Fiji and Lihir Basins and the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge ( coll. M. Türkay and T. Jellinek 1995, 1998; M. Türkay and J. Stecher 2001)

    Due to the participation in numerous expeditions and projects over the past 15 years many polychaetes have been added to the collections. Only a part of them has so far been studied and catalogued. In terms of number of specimens and taxa represented, the collections from the North Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, and the South China Sea belong to the most important collections worldwide.

    The Aphroditoidea , Glyceridae , Eunicida , Magelonidae , Terebellidae a nd Serpulidae form the systematic focus of the collections.


    Jangoux, M. & De Ridder, C. (1989): Die Typen und Typoide des Natur-Museums Senckenberg, 79 - Echinodermata. Senckenbergiana biologica 69(1/3): 201-206.

    Saiz-Salinas, J.I. (1989): Die Typen und Typoide des Natur-Museums Senckenberg, 80 - Sipunculida. Die von Rüppell & Leuckart 1828 beschriebenen Arten. Senckenbergiana biologica 69(1/3): 207-212.

    Fiege, D. & Wehe, T. (2004): Type catalogue of the Annelida Polychaeta in the collections of the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Senckenbergiana biologica 84(1/2): 27-43.

     Blick in die Polychätensammlung
      view into the polychaete collection.
    Glyceridae Glycera tridactyla Aphroditoidea Harmothoe antilopes

    Glyceridae: Glycera tridactyla, Roscoff 

    Polynoidae: Harmothoe antilopes, Banyuls 
    Eunicida Eunice torquata

     Magelona alleni

    Eunicidae: Eunice torquata, Banyuls

    Magelonidae: Magelona alleni, Banyuls 

    Terebellidae Lanice conchilega Serpulidae Serpula vermicularis
    Terebellidae: Lanice conchilega, Roscoff

    Serpulidae: Serpula vermicularis, Banyuls

    In order to maintain and extend our collections and improve their value and use as biological archives, researchers are encouraged to deposit specimens, especially type material, at Senckenberg.


  • How to use the database SESAM

  • 1. enter the database via
    2. choose your preferred language
    3. the next screen shows the collections currently available through SESAM. For a search check the menue bar on the left and click “Search”
    4. on the next screen please select the taxonomic group you are interested in by clicking on the respective name in the collections window (for example “Polychaeta - SMF”). Thus your search will be restricted to the polychaete collection. For a quick search please fill in one of the windows fields, i. e. a catalogue number, a specific genus, species etc. Then press Return (For a more detailed search please click on “extended search”)
    5. the next screen, will show you the results of your search. If more than 20 lots match your query, these are presented in portions containing 20 lots each. They are numerically arranged by increasing catalogue number
    6. if you click on the catalogue number you will enter the specific data set (sometimes you have to close/move the original search result to view the data set since it is displayed on a new screen). The screen shows the “Summary sheet” for the specific data set but you can switch to e.g. “Taxonomy and specimen data”, “Locality data”, etc. just by clicking on the respective card. Cards are arranged like in a card folder.


  • Example for a basic search:
    You are looking for the specimens of the polychaete genus Harmothoe housed in the Senckenberg.

  • start with step 4, i.e. you have already entered the “Search sheet”
    5. fill in the “genus window” with Harmothoe and press return
    6. your result is 560 lots of Harmothoe represented in the database
    7. click on catalogue number 712 and you receive the data for specimens of Harmothoe praeclara (HASWELL 1882)

  • Example for an extended search:
    You want to know which species of the polychaete family Polynoidae are present in the collection
    start with step 4, i. e. you have already entered the “Search sheet”
    5. click on “Extended search”, and you enter the extended search screen.
    6. select your group, i.e. “Polychaeta-SMF”
    7. mark the box “Taxonomy”
    8. go to “Field”, open the pulldown menue and click on “Taxonomic position”
    9. a screen called “Biosystematic Search assistant” appears. Type the requested taxon into the blank box, in this case Polynoidae. Click “Start search”
    10. The search result is two-fold, 1. Polynoidae and Polynoidae indet, simply click on the Polynoidae, and the expression will be copied into your query form. (If you click on “+” before the respective result you will see more information, in this case a list of the genera comprised incl. those represented in the collection)
    11. click “OK” to validate the search for this family
    12. then click “start search” and the species of Polynoidae represented in the collection appear
    13. click on catalogue number 712 and you receive the data for specimens of Harmothoe praeclara (HASWELL 1882)
    14. for a new extended search you must first clear the parameters in the line “Searchvalues” by clicking on all “l” on the right in these lines. Now you can select the parameters for a new search

  • We hope, that after some exercise you will consider SeSam a practical tool. It offers a large amount of information on specimens, authors, literature, and biosystematics.