SOSA – Senckenberg Ocean Species Alliance

News & Events

Marketing Partnership with Wiesbaden Business School

Students from the Wiesbaden Business School developed and presented ideas to take SOSA’s communication efforts to the next level. They impressed us with thorough competitor analyses, suggestions for clearer narratives, and creative ideas for collaborations. They even made us laugh with imagined audience personas and sample tiktok videos!

We want to say a big thank you to Dennis Albert and all the students who presented their ideas. We so appreciate your efforts and especially the fun and creativity you infused into your marketing pitches. If you see a little more innovation or imagination in our communications, you will know why!

(25 January 2024)

Cone Snail Red List Workshop

Cone snails are an incredible group of marine mollusks in the family Conidae, with charismatic features like colorful, patterned shells, a venomous harpoon, and medically important conotoxins. In an effort to conserve these fascinating animals, 17 experts gathered from 7 countries, at the SOSA offices last week to assess the global extinction risk of over 600 species of cone snails. To assess each cone snail species for its global extinction risk, participants considered criteria like the snail’s population size, its geographic range, changes in population or habitat range, and the threats each species faces. The group also wrestled with issues around the entanglement of taxonomy and conservation; discussing species group stability, taxonomic inflation and its impact on conservation status. Find out more here.

(19 December 2023)

 “Dumbo octopus discovered” – filming of deep-sea creatures on expeditions

Prof. Dr. Angelika Brandt, the Head of Marine Zoology Department at the Senckenberg Research Center, shares in an interview the excitement filming rare deep-sea dwellers on expeditions. In this particular case, it’s the likable ”Dumbo Octopus”, which looks remarkably similar to the Disney elephant. But what seem to be his ears are actually fins!

If you want to learn more about a species of Dumbo Octopuses, Grimpoteuthis imperator, visit our “Creature Feature” on Instagram. A real model of a Dumbo Octopus can also be seen in the Senckenberg Museum’s deep-sea exhibition.

(The interview is only available in German)

(13 November 2023)

Deep-sea expedition in Japan and Kamchatka

SOSA researchers have joined AORI (Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute) scientists on the Hakuho-Maru deep-sea expedition. For three weeks, they plan to explore the Japan Trench and the Kuril-Kamchatka Trench on the east coast of Japan. By collecting samples, they hope to discover new deep-sea species. Scroll through our gallery to see what they’ve found, and see species where some of them don’t even have a name yet.

(28 September 2023)

Assessment of 26 new species at Red List Workshop

In September, 23 participants from nine different countries gathered in Iceland to assess and/or reassess the global endangerment risk of cold-water coral species. This workshop was sponsored by SOSA and included a training led by Prof. Dr. Julia Sigwart to build participants’ capacity to assess species for the IUCN Red List. An additional training was held in cold-water coral taxonomy to help less experienced participants understand the methods for identification and specimen preparation. The workshop was successful in confirming previous taxonomic identifications and identifying several new species. 26 cold water coral species were assessed for the IUCN Red List.

(17 September 2023)


United Nations World Ocean Assessment

The UN’s World Ocean Assessment is a report outlining the state of the world’s oceans – including environmental, economic, and social aspects. It’s an important tool to enhance the scientific basis for policy-making. The process for creating this assessment involves hundreds of scientists from many countries across the globe, contributing their knowledge and expertise – one of those experts is SOSA’s own Prof. Dr. Julia Sigwart!

Information on and links to the first two World Ocean Assessments can be found here:

(04 August 2023)

ZDF TerraX Documentary in the Musem

An exciting film is running until August 29 in the cinema of our Frankfurt museum: the ZDF TerraX documentary “What actually happens on a research ship?”*. The journey of the ship “Sonne” and Senckenberg researchers goes to the Aleutian Trench, which at 8000 meters is one of the longest deep-sea trenches in the oceans. The film sheds light on the technical process of sampling and laboratory testing, but also reports on the everyday life of the scientists and also addresses the fears, concerns and future aspirations of individual passengers.

By the way, you can see a miniature version of the “Sonne” in the “Marine Research” room on the 2nd floor.

*Only in German available

(August 2023)

Why do we need the Discovery Unit?

Recently SOSA published a paper in BioEssays explaining “Why is there no service to support taxonomy”. SOSA proposes a new model to solve this problem and makes clear why the Discovery Unit is so important.

Now a video abstract was created to explain all major key points and published on YouTube.   

An evening about snails

In a lecture and discussion evening about “Schnecken” (snails) at the “Frankfurter Bürgerstiftung” SOSA’s co-chair, Prof Dr Julia Sigwart, gave a humorous insight into the world of marine and terrestrial snails. Through engaging storytelling, she showed that these slimy creatures are actually quite lovable! Sigwart elicited an interactive discussion where she explained the evolutionary advantage of shell-less slugs, the origin of bright shell colors (spoiler: indigestible food components and excrement), and gave practical tips on what to do when snails attack the lettuce in the garden.


The International Polychaetology Conference comes to Frankfurt/Germany

A big congratulations to Dr. Ekin Tilic, a SOSA Ambassador, on his new role as President of the International Polychaetology Association! The International Polychaetology Conference (IPC) takes place every three years. Thanks to Tilic´s engagement, the next IPC in 2026 will be hosted right here in Frankfurt!

(July 2023)

IUCN Red List Partnership

Senckenberg is now an official partner of The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The work of SOSA in assessing the risk of global extinction for marine invertebrate species – along with the work of many other Senckenberg departments – support this important partnership. Learn more in our Press Release.

(June 2023)

New Paper out!

Have you ever wondered, why is there no service to support taxonomic species descriptions? This new SOSA paper provides a model how to solve this problem and describes why SOSA´s Discovery Unit is so important.


“Science Live!” at the museum

As part of Ocean Week, our SOSA scientists presented a lecture on the deep sea. At the end of the event, the visitors had the opportunity to prove their knowledge in a quiz about marine invertebrates.


The world of invertebrates

During the Ocean Week at the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt, SOSA presented the “World of Marine Invertebrates” with a sorting station. Visitors young and old had the opportunity to assign cards with invertebrate species to the correct groups. They learned a lot about the life, distribution and IUCN Red List status of molluscs, crustacea, echinodermata and more.


Happy Diversity Day!

We love the variety of marine species and we also believe and promote diversity and inclusion in the workspace.

Regardless of age, origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion or belief, everyone is welcome at SOSA. We stand for a colorful and diverse world.

PS: The beautiful poster was designed by SOSA’s co-chair Prof. Dr. Julia Sigwart


The case of the “pogo stick trails” has been likely solved

Mysterious holes in the bottom of the deep sea have been observed since the 1960s. These structures were seen again on the AleutBio expedition in 2022 and showed an average total length of 30 cm with hole diameters of two or three centimetres. Read the now published article by SOSA’s co-chair Prof. Dr. Julia Sigwart and colleagues to learn which creature may create these “pogo stick trails”. To find out how a stroke of luck helped the team solve the case, please click here.


Night of the Museums

At the “Nacht der Museum” in Frankfurt am Main Andreas Kelch (PhD Student Section Crustacea) and Henry Knauber (PhD Student SOSA) represented marine and deep-sea research at Senckenberg. With a well-visited stand, they communicated Senckenberg´s key research areas, reported on excursions and allowed visitors to immerse themselves in the world of the oceans.


Girls Day 2023

On Girls Day 2023 we went on a excursion to the Senckenberg courtyard.

The girls collected their first biological specimens, learned what information needs to be documented for scientific collections, and tried identifying local snail species.
They also got to chose snails for the Frankfurt Snail Race, which later placed first.

After meeting scientist at work and looking through their microscopes, the day endet with a tour of the malacological collections. 


Malaysian Biodiversity Collections Society (MBioCS)

Malaysia is one of the most biodiverse places in the world, but many of the organisms are highly endangered. Although species collections are fundamental for fast and effective description and Red List assessment, Malaysia is one of the few countries without a natural history museum. In February 2023, 120 delegates came together to discuss the future of Biodiversity Collections, accompanied by Prof. Dr. Julia Sigwart.

A council has been elected that will form a new national society of natural history collections in Malaysia (Malaysian Biodiversity Collections Society; MBioCS), headed by Nur Leena Wong and Thor Seng Liew.

We say congratulations on this first but very important step!


MIRLA – a new IUCN commission group

The IUCN SSC Marine Invertebrates Red List Authority (MIRLA) has been established, headed by SOSA´s co-chair Prof. Dr. Julia Sigwart. This group assesses the Red List status of as many marine invertebrates as possible, following IUCN standards – a big step in the direction of marine protection.

(December 2022)

Meet the Metallica Isopod

SOSA´s researcher Dr. Torben Riehl named a newly described deep see crustacean in honour of the band Metallica: Macrostylis metallicola

In this article and podcast you will find out what is so special about this critter and what its name has to do with the degradation of the seabed.

Mentioned Article: Tiefseekrebs nach Metallica benannt – Senckenberger Tiefseeforscher ehrt mit der Benennung einer bislang unbekannten Art seine Jugendhelden

Podcast Episode: Erdfrequenz #13  Wissenschaft rockt: Die Metallica-Assel und der Schutz der Meere