Spurred by an urgent request to return specimens borrowed some years ago, we decided to bring a quick visit to the Zoological Museum of the University of Amsterdam. Such a visit was anyway on our agenda given that this museum is home to several important collections, most notably the collection made during the famous scientific expedition of the Siboga (1899-1900).

Gustave Cherbonnier

(information liberally translated from Jaussaud & Brygoo. XXX.: 134-135)
Gustave Cherbonnier was borm on 7 August 1909 in Angers (Maine-et-Loire) and died in October 1995.

Cherbonnier was head of the Malacology Department, and later of the Department of Biology of Marine Invertebrates and Malacology of the Musée national d’Histoire naturelle.

The young Cherbonnier held several positions; for instance that of journalist.

Gustave Cherbonnier carried out his military service from 1928 until 1930. He joined the museum in 1934 and this as assistant to the Secretariat of the Director. Here Cherbonnier quickly developed a fascination for natural history and was supported in his interest by L. Germain who guided his first works in the malacology lab.

Parallel with his scientific career, Cherbonnier continued to pursue his job of journalist, and this until the onset of the second World War. During that period, he met his obligations at the museum during the day, while overnight he wrote his contributions for the Petit Parisien.

In April 1940, Cherbonnier was briefly mobilised for the war, In 1941 he joined the Resistance.

In 1948, Cherbonnier commenced with a long series of scientific visits, leading him to Roscoff and Banyuls, but also to many overseas destinations.

In 1960, he was nominated team leader of the malacolgy lab. In 1967 he earned the title of advisor to the director, to become honorary professor in 1974.

During his career, Cherbonnier joined the La Calypso to the Red Sea (1951-52) and to the Indian Ocean (1954), worked at Oceanographic Station of Salammbo in Tunisia (1955, 1956),  joined the  Lacaze-Duthier (1957) to the Baleares, undertook an expedition to Madagascar (1959-1960) and leaded a campaign to the Gulf of Guinea (1964).

In 1979 he retired from the museum, but remained acttive for another large decade.

Cherbonnier, described as a hard worker, proud of his natal origin, and in love with the French language, was also known for his humorous accounts. His marriage gave him three children.

He devoted his career to the systematics of marine invertebrates. He desscribed the mollusc collection of Arnaould Leonard, but was most known as an echinoderm specialist. He was the first to work on this group since Edmond Perrier. Half of Cherbonnier’s work is on holothuroids coming from Antarctic, the Indo-Pacific and West Africa. Next to this work on sea cucumbers, Cherbonnier also researched the ophiuroids of Madagascar, the holothuroid types of Lesson (1830) and those of Quoy & Gaimard (1833), and the echinoderm fauna of Tunesia.

In his nearly 2000 publications the following are striking: Roman des Echinodermes (1934); Les Mollusques de France de la collection Locard (nine papers from 1942 to 1945); Les Holothuries de la Mer Rouge (1954); Faune marine des Purenées orientales (fasc 2): Echinoderms (1958); Aldabra, l’île aux Tortues géantes (1964) and Faune de Madagascar : Echinodermes, Holothuries (1988).

More on G. Cherbonnier:
Guille, A. 1998. Mémorial : Gustave Cherbonnier. In: Mooi & Telford (eds) Echinoderms: San Francisco: 29-30.

While searching for original descriptions of Ophiocoma species I stumbled on the description of Ophiocoma punctata Forbes, 1841, species discovered by … a cod.

On the first day of 2009, Claude officially took his retirement. To mark that special event Claude threw together a party at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. Through a powerpoint presentation Belgian PEET members gave tribute to Claude.

Click here to see the presentation given on the occassion

Click here to get a pictorial impression


We read and write April 1 2009. Is this a joke or is it hard business? The Food and Agiculture Organistation of the United Nations has a news item on sea cucumber fisheries and trade on their website. Read more here.