History of the Section

Ichthyological collections kept in the Museum are not very old. Only 133 fish specimens were enumerated by Lovetsky in 1839, and only 223 specimens were registered in 1862.

Society of Amateurs in Natural History, Anthropology, and Ethnography was one of the most significant sources of new acquisitions of the fish materials in subsequent decades. In particular, due to this the Museum owns pretty good collection of fishes from Mountain Turkestan obtained from A.P Fedchenko in 1869-1871. That Society also funded expeditions to Black Sea (N.V. Nasonov, F.F. Kavraisky, A.N. Korchagin, etc., in 1869, 1881, 1885), Baltic Sea (N.K. Zenger, G.A. Kozhevnikov, in 1869, 1882), Japanese and Chinese Seas (N.V. Slyunin, in 1882). Samples from Volga River basin collected by the Commission for Studying Moscow Government and from Yamal Peninsula collected by B.M. Zhitkov are also to be mentioned.

Of great importance are fishes collected by outstanding Russian ichthyologist and evolutionist L.S. Berg in southern Russia and Middle Asia. They were used by Berg in preparing his monographs “Fishes of Russia” (1911-1913) and some others.

Quite interesting ichthyological materials were brought to the Museum from far sea expeditions also supported by the above Society. These were fishes from Mediterranean Sea, Persian Gulf, Malacca, Philippines. Besides, that Society funded purchasing of some small but interesting collections from acknowledged zoologists among which were A. Agassiz (N America), Dr. Vineke (Indonesia), C. Semper (Philippines) etc.

In the 1930s the most important collections came from Aral Sea and rivers of Middle Asia, Central Russia, Amur River. Very large collection was obtained from Petchora River in 1943-45. In 1957-1958 quite active was Amur Expedition. Subsequently, that collection has been enriching by materials from Mongolia, by some deep water fishes, etc.