The soft coral collection (Cnidaria: Octocorallia) at Tel Aviv Zoological Museum comprises over 6,000 samples, of which ~300 are type specimens, representing various zoogeographical regions in the Indo-PacificOcean. Some of these type materials were received as gifts from museums around the world and others were collected by Tel-AvivUniversity scientists, who identified the new species. Among these,  particularly worthy of mention are the dozens of new species discovered in the Red Sea, including its northern extensions, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Gulf of Suez. The type material allows a thorough identification through comparison with newly collected material, and thus it ensures accurate identification of material from all over the world.

The octocoral collection was established during the early 1950s by Professor Lev Fishelson and the late Professor Chanan Lewinsohn. The collection was initiated by sampling from the Eilat reefs and it currently holds species from the southern Red Sea (ISRSE, Dahlak Archipelago, Erithraea) and the entire Indo-Pacific tropical region. The collection also holds a variety of species from the eastern coast of Africa (Erithrea to South Africa), Japanese coral reefs (Okinawa and adjacent islands), SingaporeHong-KongTaiwanThailandGuamFijiHawaii and more. The continuous and broad documentation of soft corals from the Red Sea undoubtedly contributes to the collection's worldwide scientific reputation and significance. 

In 1984 the collection was transferred from the Zoological Department at Abu Kabir (Jaffa) to the premises of Tel-AvivUniversity's zoological garden. Most of the specimens in the collection were collected by Professor Lev Fishelson and his students, as well as by Professor Chanan Lewinsohn, and Prof. Hudi Benayahu and his students. Cooperation with colleagues abroad routinely enriches the collection with new samples. Samples are frequently received for identification assistance and some of them remain permanently at the collection.

The soft coral samples are preserved in ethanol. Species identification and collection data for each sample are routinely updated in our computerized database. For the past few years we have put much effort into collecting samples for molecular phylogenetic analysis, collaborating in shared projects with colleagues abroad. The collection enjoys a fruitful scientific cooperation with several natural history museums and researchers, in particular from the Netherlands, South Africa, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore,Germany, and the USA.