Dr. Alfred Ebeling assembled the bulk of the collection from 1965 to 1985. He collected many of the specimens himself and also acquired some from other museums. Most of the collection consists of coastal fishes from the temperate and tropical eastern Pacific, as well as specimens collected on cruises that Ebeling conducted in the 1970s.
The CCBER fish collection consists of approximately 5400 specimens from 184 families of fishes, with representatives from most of the major orders. The collection is primarily used to support hands-on teaching in the systematics portion of the Biology of Fishes class, EEMB 106. The collection is also occasionally used as a reference for field studies, and serves as a repository for voucher specimens.
Among west coast universities, there remain very few courses in the Biology of Fishes that retain both a field and laboratory component. EEMB 106 is a popular course at UCSB, and its success depends on a well-maintained and complete collection of fishes.