On July 10, 2014, in the city of Paris, several Venezuelans received recognition from the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO for the Cariaco Project. Among them was Dr. Baumar Marín, Ph.D. who said in the French capital:
In the eastern sea of Venezuela there is a unique place: the Cariaco Trench. Its biogeochemical characteristics and its isolation from the surrounding waters make it a special place for ocean research. It is the second-largest natural anoxic basin on the planet, after the Black Sea, and the only permanently anoxic basin in open marine waters. The project has made available to the scientific community a time series that allows evidence of climate changes that occur on a planetary scale. This series began in 1995 and continues to this day, generating hydrographic, meteorological, geological, chemical and biological information, useful to interpret the impact of the climate on fishing resources in the area of greatest productivity of the Greater Caribbean, as well as the flow of sediment and carbon into the sea and into the atmosphere.
Baumar was born in Carúpano, a coastal city in the middle of the Venezuelan state of Sucre, on November 14, 1956. His childhood was spent in Caracas where he studied elementary school. However, his adolescence was spent in Güiria, the easternmost port in the country. In Güiria, he completed his high school studies. Her sister Rita says that when she got distracted, she did it by lung diving off nearby beaches, collecting seaweed for her. He too, while in those waters, imagined himself to be his admired Jacques Cousteau whom he saw frequently on television. It was perhaps under that inspiration that he would study marine biology at the Universidad de Oriente in Cumaná, before he had obtained a scholarship to study in Japan. However, and at the request of his mother, he stayed in his country and in his beloved state of Sucre, of which he never regretted. Time would prove him right.
As a person, Baumar was one of those whole human beings in the positive. In addition, it is not undeserved flattery, perhaps I did not know any defects or pettiness because I saw none of that, nor did I feel. The truth is that of his dozens of friends and family who refer him, no one has a complaint or reflection of selfishness on his part. Rather always with a smile and seeking to say the faults in the most diplomatic way possible. He had a soft voice, never raising his tone even under extreme circumstances. He had a habit of whistling to an undefined melody while he was busy with his tasks, which seemed very nice and reassuring for him and others who were accompanying him.
My personal and professional memory of Baumar is in the late 80s when I was finishing my undergraduate studies in Cumaná. My first interest was zooplankton, which would always be Dr. Marín's specialization, so there we agreed more. Before, I only knew Baumar for the musical taste we shared in common; occasionally I would meet him and my closest friend Aquiles Penott, to enjoy good rock pieces, along with several beers or a coffee. Sometimes you could hear him whistling some rock tune in his lab.
It turns out that Baumar was an expert in fish larvae and eggs, which are a very important part of the animal plankton that sustains large fisheries and the rest of the upper links of the ocean food chain. His undergraduate thesis was with the samples that the Calypso had taken a decade ago, itself the same boat of Jacques Ives Cousteau when he sampled in Venezuela in 1979. A particular species of fish that we talked a lot about was Bregmaceros cantori, a gadiform of less than 7cm long that has the peculiarity of diving "lung". Exactly, do apnea, that is, hold your breath. … Nevertheless, how does a fish dive? They do not have gills to take in the dissolved oxygen in seawater? Like all fish, this gadiform has gills, however, this little fish when it is a larva and even as an adult manages to migrate from the vertical zone with abundant oxygen and light to the deeper zone where the sun's rays do not penetrate well, although there is not much-dissolved oxygen to breathe there either. Then, why do that migration? Well, to avoid predators or to look for food and it does this by holding its breath or consuming very little dissolved oxygen at those depths. Baumar found that this diver fish made its dive trips in the Cariaco Trench between day, night and certain hours or seasons. A student of Dr. Marín, José Gregorio Núñez, did his thesis detailing this particular little fish.
From the Universidad de Oriente in Cumaná, he also obtained his master's degree in marine sciences and fisheries, was hired as Professor and Researcher for the Oceanographic Institute of Venezuela. Moreover, between the years 1991 to 1996, he went to study for his doctorate at the University of Laval in the province of Québec in Canada. There he met with several Venezuelan friends; one of the most relevant was Dr. Cesar Lodeiros, Ph.D. (Polar Prize 2011) who is one of his great friends and colleagues.
In Canada, says Dr. Lodeiros that Baumar photocopied every book, every interesting paper, and every information, with the desire -not to have it like the collector he was. Instead, to take it to his beloved Universidad de Oriente, where resources were not enough to have that bibliography at hand (this habit changed with the evolution of digitization. Baumar in recent times continued to digitize bibliography for everyone, and of which many of us have used). Every Tuesday they went early to the Laval University library, since they already had controlled When the latest issues of scientific journals arrived, to be devoured and impregnated with scientific and specific wisdom, I have no doubt that those Tuesdays were the basis of the great training that both received, and with it their achievements. Lodeiros says that Baumar's and his hours were from 6 pm to 10 am because all the students left and left the computers and the entire laboratory so that both could develop their doctoral theses. Lodeiros remembers, and he still feels the vivid memory, those evening gatherings at 2-3 am, full of rock, science, and friendship.
At the University of Laval, the locals had an alias for him; Bonman, he was a mixture of good in French and man in English. This may reveal not only how difficult his name is to pronounce in Spanish but also part of his good character. Actually, her name is the mixture of Baudilia, her mother, and Marcelina, her paternal great-grandmother.
Regarding his family, there were four brothers, two boys and two girls. She married a teacher in chemistry, Iray Fornerino in 1991 a few months before going to do her doctorate in Canada, and they had two children: León and Jean Carlos. An interesting fact is that the Marín brothers, together with their wives, formed the Little Guardians of the Environment Foundation to educate young people from Sucre on the values of nature in 2007.
When he returns to Venezuela, Baumar resumes his routines of teaching, research, and especially his part during the Cariaco project, field trips, plus a long, etc. Those first years of the return gave many fruits of the work done before, the results of Cariaco that, although it was coordinated and promoted by the other Venezuelan Dr. Frank Müller-Karger, had the strong component of zooplankton and the fisheries that Baumar led.
Baumar, was an excellent malacologist, he was the maximum exponent of the taxonomy of the Mollusk Biology Group to which he belonged and helped to promote. On a forced vacation, back in 1999 with a university strike, he met every day with Dr. Antulio Prieto and César Lodeiros, and their selection of mollusks, and other projects they carried out, published the Catalog of mollusks from eastern Venezuela: bivalve class, a book that every malacologist in Venezuela and the Caribbean borders has for their work.
In the recent five years, especially between 2018 and 2019, it endured the destruction of the Oceanographic Institute, the burning of the libraries, the looting of the laboratories, the humiliation of salaries and a lack of budgets for programs and research. It is a hard time for science in the east of the country. With all that, he continued to work with his affable and hopeful character. He was seen rescuing books from the remains of libraries and safeguarding laboratories. What was always his work refuge was the Turpialito biological station where he frequently went.
In mid-April of this 2021, Dr. Marín died as another victim of Covid-19, this with the particularity that Baumar was 64 years old, hypertension and some cardio-respiratory deficiencies. This made him easy prey for this virus, which affected his entire family, and this included another family casualty. He is also responsible for his death, the lack of adequate medical infrastructure in Cumaná, the lack of hospital insurance, the decade of terrible remuneration for the professors of the Universidad de Oriente, and a State that does not seems to be sensitive with the people for whom they say its reason for being.
For his family, friends and colleagues who gathered more strongly through social networks thanks to his memory. The memory of the person will remain, his more than fifty refereed publications, guided theses, students and professionals he formed, and all the friends he treasured. In my opinion, designing a scholarship program that bears his name, for Venezuelans motivated by the sea to study marine science would be their greatest honor. In my obituary there would be much more to complete from such a productive life, however, this is my tribute to him with the help of Rita and Cesar.
Baumar continues to sail… Doctor of the Venezuelan eastern sea.