The Hydrobiology Of The Danube Delta And Of The Black Sea In The Work Of The Academician Mihai C. Bacescu

Mihai C. Băcescu, who joined the Romanian Academy in 1963, had become an important figure among his fellow-colleagues through the contributions he brought to the development of zoology and oceanography, and through his remarkable results in the research on the marine fauna of oceans. He described more than 353 taxa that were new for science, out of which 340 belong to the crustacean group: Cumacea, Mysidacea and Tanaidacea. Apart from the appreciation and the recognition of his work in Romania, specialists all over the world (France, USA, Brazil, Cuba, Japan, Russia, etc.) named more than seventy species and genera after him. Such performance was possible due to his abiding passion for research on morphology, systems, zoo-geography and the ecology of Mysidacea. His inclination to hydro-biological research was cultivated by the famous Romanian scientists Ion Borcea, Grigore Antipa, Paul Bujor, and Emil Racoviţă. These mentors understood and appreciated his passion for the sea and the beings living in it. Although his first mentor was Paul Bujor, at whose department he trained as a morphologist and became head of works, in parallel he worked with the Department of Zoology of professor Ion Borcea. Thus, in 1929, while he was a second-year student at the Faculty of Science of the first University of Romania, the director of the zoological resort Agigea invited him to a research activity on the shore of the Black Sea and in the Danube Delta. Paul Bujor had advised him to choose Mysidae as a study group, which was the topic of his PhD thesis, Les Mysidacés des eaux roumaines. (Étude taxonomique, morphologique, biogéographique et biologique), which he defended in 1938. On that occasion he emphasized his contribution to the research on the creatures living in the Danube and the Black Sea and shed light on the adaptation of the marine fauna to the life in rivers and deltas, thus establishing himself as a complex and exceptional hydro-biologist, and becoming a worthy successor of the founder of Romanian hydro-biology, Dr. Grigore Antipa. As a result of those contributions, in 1938 he was recommended by the Professor Paul Bujor, and supported by the scientist Emil Racoviţă, to be granted a specialization scholarship in France. As a result, between 1938 and 1939 he worked both at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris and at the Oceanographic Institute of Monaco, then in the marine research resorts of Roscof and Banyuls-sur-Mer. The remarkable results obtained during his internship in France raised the interest and the admiration of the great French specialists: Louis Fage, Charles Pérez, Edouard Chatton, Jules Richard and others. Starting with the '60s some of them had the curiosity to visit the unmatched Danube Delta, which has now become a Reserve of the Biosphere. For his scientific merits, in 1965 he received an invitation from the American National Foundation for Science, at the recommendation of Professor Robert Menzies and Dr. Duard Chin, to participate in the expedition of exploration of the creatures in the Peru-Chile trough – one of the deepest places in the east of the Pacific Ocean. From there he brought valuable biological materials for the Museum of Natural History of Bucharest. In 1970 Mihai Băcescu was invited to join, and participated in the expedition of the French Institute of Maritime Fishing of Nantes, in the tropical Atlantic, on the continental platform of Mauritania, on the ship Thalassa, especially built for ocean research. He traveled on the same ship to the north-west of the Indian Ocean. His impressions and experience of that last expedition were put down in the book published by the Romanian Academy in 2000, entitled On the Thalassa in the North-West of the Indian Ocean.

by Dumitru Murariu