Mesyatsev, Ivan Illarionovich

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(b. 1885; d. Mosum. U.S.S.R., 7 May 1940)

earth science, oceanography.

In 1908 Mesyatsev entered the natural sciences section of the department of physics and mathematics of Moscow University. During his student years he displayed great ability in teaching and research; and in 1912, after he graduated from the university, he remained in the department of invertebrate zoology to prepare for a professorship.

Although Mesyatsev’s first works were in embryology, histology, and protozoology, his scientific interests later became more involved with marine ichthyology and its application to the fishing industry. In 1920 he headed a pioneering group of Soviet zoologists who worked on a plan to set up the first special scientific oceanographic institute in the country, the Plavmornin.

Established in 1921, Plavmornin was oriented to research on the country’s northern seas, especially the Barents Sea. Mesyatsev was placed in charge of all its expeditionary activity, and in 1928 was appointed its director. He organized the construction of the institute’s special scientific ship, the Persus, and its systematic research expeditions on the Barents Sea. He himself participated in many of these trips. Mesyatsev succeeded, through careful study of the biology and environment of fish in that sea, in establishing its rich potential for the fishing industry.

Mesyatsev was director of the State Oceanographic Institute from 1929 and manager of the oceanography laboratory of the All-Union Scientific-Research Institute of Ocean Fishing Economy and Oceanography from 1933.

In 1934, as president of the Government Commission for the Determination of Fish Resources of the Caspian Sea, Mesyatsev developed a special method for measuring the supply of fish, which was later used by other specialists in the Sea of Azov. In 1937–1939 Mesyatsev came to conclusions, important for the lishing industry, about the behavior of schools of fish and introduced into ichthyology a clear definition of schooling.

Despite his great load of scientific and administrative work, Mesyatsev found time for teaching as professor of zoology at Moscow University.


I. Original Works. Mesyatsev’s most important works are “K embriologii mollyuskov” (“Toward an Embryology of Mollusks”). in Dnevnik zoolgicheskogo otdelenia Obshchestva lyubiteley estestvoznania, antropologii i ethografii, n.s, 1 , no, 4 (1913); Plavychy morskoy nauchny institut i ego eksepditsia 1921 god. Otchet nachalnika polyantoy ekspeditsii (“The Floating Ocean Scientific Institute and Its Expedition of 1921; An Account by the Chief of the Polar Expedition”; Moscow, 1922); Materialy k zoogeografii russkikh severnykh morey (“Material for a Zoogeography of the Russian Northern Oceans”; Moscow, 1923); “Stroenie kosyakov rybnykh stad” (“The Structure of Schools of Fish”), in Izvestia Akademii nauk SSSR, seria biologicheskaya, no. 3 (1937); “O strukture kosyakov treski” (“On the Structure of Schools of Cod”), in Trudy VSIRO, IV (Moscow, 1939).

II. Secondary Literature. See the foreword to Trudy VNIRO, LX (Moscow, 1966); “Kratkaya biografia I. I. Mesyatsev” (“A Short Biography of I. I. Mesyatsev”), in Bolshaya sovetskaya entsiklopedia (“Great Soviet Encyclopedia”), 2nd ed., XXVII (1954), 209; and A. D. Starostin, “Zhizn i nauchnaya deyatelnost I. I. Mesyatsev” (“Life and Scientific Career of I. I. Mesyatsev”), in Trudy VNIRO, LX (Moscow, 1966), 11–18.

A. F. Plakhotnik