SOSA -Senckenberg Ocean Species Alliance

The SOSA Project

The Challenge:

Our knowledge about the biodiversity of oceans is incredibly incomplete. An estimated 91% of marine species are still unknown, unnamed and undescribed. Increasing environmental changes and other human impact is fuelling massive biodiversity loss, meaning species are dying out before we even have the chance to understand them.

This is especially urgent for marine invertebrates. Marine invertebrates are astonishingly numerous and valuable – invertebrates make up 95% of all animals – yet they’re underrepresented in scientific descriptions, conservation efforts and general public awareness.

Therefore, we must accelerate the process for discovering, protecting and building awareness for marine invertebrate species before they become extinct.


The Project:

The Senckenberg Ocean Species Alliance (SOSA) was launched in 2022 to meet this urgent challenge. SOSA is a project within the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum Frankfurt, built upon Senckenberg’s deeply rooted knowledge and expertise of taxonomy and biodiversity. SOSA extends beyond its institutional home as a network of individuals and institutions across the globe in both formal and informal roles supporting the SOSA vision: to discover, protect and build awareness for marine invertebrates before they become extinct.

Find more information about our partners here. 


Our Approach:

SOSA’s service model for taxonomic descriptions will streamline the technical processes, and represents an international taxonomic hub centralising scientific and technical expertise. Our service is developing ways to accelerate the discovery and naming of species previously unknown to science for the benefit of research, and nature conservation.

SOSA goes beyond species description, coordinating the Marine Invertebrate Red List Authority (MIRLA) within the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species dedicated to the assessment of the endangerment status of marine invertebrate species. 

SOSA’s discovery and Red List activities are supported by a devoted engagement team building build public awareness of new and existing marine invertebrates. 

Together, SOSA works to accelerate species descriptions, drive global conservation efforts and build public awareness for marine invertebrate species.