The Group for Antarctic Research was established at the Institute with the beginning of a new era in the study of the South Ocean when in 1955 through 1956 the International Geophysical Year was held. Since that event accumulation of Antarctic fauna collections atthe Zoological Institute began owing to the first Soviet Antarctic expeditions on board “Ob” research vessel. Based upon material of those expeditions specialists from the Zoological Institute and other institutions published faunal and taxonomic papers and monographs concerning in the first turn the most common and important animal taxa, such as fishes and invertebrates (sponges, hydroids, molluscs, polychaetes, crustaceans and echinoderms). A new series “Results of Biological Research of the Soviet Antarctic Expeditions” was established. In 1971 a two-volume “Atlas of the Antarctic” was published. It was awarded the USSR State Prize.
In subsequent years research expeditions continued with equal intensity. Material collected in those expeditions was added to the Zoological Institute’s Antarctic collections, which became the most representative collections in the world. Studies of these collections allow predicting areas of benthic and pelagic fishery in the Antarctic.
In the 1970s a new phase in the study of the Antarctic began when Russian SCUBA diver biologists began studying Antarctic shallow waters. Such studies continued during two summer Antarctic seasons close to the Russian stations Mirny and Molodezhnaya (East Antarctic) and off South Shetland Islands. The third diving expedition worked in the Antarctic for nearly a year and a half (1970-1972) off Haswell Archipelago (near Mirny). These works enriched the collections considerably and permitted to study thoroughly seasonal phenomena in the South Ocean shallow waters.
In the 1980s scientific researchers of the Zoological Institute started more profound research of the Antarctic. The Group for Antarctic Research comprises specialists from four laboratories: Ichthyology, Marine Research, Evolutionary Morphology and Protozoology. Specialists from the Information Group also participate because the research involves compiling computer databases and identification keys working in dialogue regime “man-computer”. The modern level of knowledge of the Antarctic fauna permits resolving theoretical issues in the area of biogeography and ecology.