The U.S. Bureau of Energy Management (BOEM) has amassed a collection over 38 years of more than 280,000 specimen lots collected from all four U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) regions as part of BOEM’s Environmental Studies Program (ESP).
To date, more than 350 species from the BOEM collection have been officially named and introduced to science for the first time.
In recent years, Smithsonian researchers and external partners have begun to generate DNA barcodes from BOEM’s historical collections, specimens stored in jars of ethanol for years.
BOEM first sent its specimens to the Smithsonian for cataloging in the 1970s. They are now part of the Global Genome Initiative. BOEM is one of the organizations partnering with the Smithsonian, universities, research centers, government agencies, industry and museums from around the globe to preserve and understand the genomic diversity of life on Earth.
The Smithsonian Natural History Museum has an exhibit titled “Objects of Wonder” that includes some of these specimens, open to the public until 2019.
Caption: This ice worm was discovered in 1997, living on exposed frozen methane hydrate at a depth of 1,800 ft. (Photo Credit: Greg Boland, BOEM)