Bela Entz, an internationally well-known limnologist, died in Tihany, Hungary, on the 26th of April 2012, at the age of 93. A couple of months ago, Bela Entz was still actively involved in the work of the Balaton Limnological Institute at Tihany and continued to improve his knowledge on all aspects of hydrobiology and limnology. His love of Lake Balaton highlighted his passion for nature, and this was also apparent in his professional career.
Bela Entz was born on December 26th, 1919 in Budapest. At the age of 10 his family moved to Tihany, near Lake Balaton, when Bela Entz’s father, Professor Geza Entz, was appointed director of the Hungarian Biological Research Institute. His life-long interest in limnology and hydrobiology began here in Tihany where he spent his childhood.
Shortly after the WWII he returned to Tihany, initially as a young researcher working on Lake Balaton. Language skills (Bela was nearly fluent in 8 languages) and his growing professional recognition facilitated his travel abroad to international congresses and meetings. In the politically troublesome 1950s, more precisely from 1953 to 1955 and 1959 to 1960, he was the director-in-charge of the Biological Research Institute. Some year later, from 1966, he worked for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Development Programme (FAO-UNDP) in Ghana, Africa, as a limnologist at the Volta Reservoir for 3 years. Following an invitation from the FAO-UNDP, he became a project manager of the Lake Nasser Development Centre Programme until 1974. Later, he declined long-term foreign invitations to help his family and children to acclimatize and pursue their studies. Nevertheless, shorter trips allowed him to work in Egypt, Kenya, Lesotho, Somalia and Italy as an expert of the FAO-UNDP, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), and UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), and he led Hungarian fishery professionals in a study tour around the world. Meanwhile, between 1975 and 1983 he held the position of senior research fellow of the Balaton Limnological Research Institute until his retirement in 1983.
His professional interests concentrated on the spatial and temporal changes of the physical properties (temperature, ice formation, transparency) and chemical conditions (oxygen saturation, chemical parameters of water and sediment, the relationship between water quality and living organisms) of water and sediment, and he also studied the fish habitat through work conducted in Hungary and the Philippines. His works include among the first research on underwater springs and their effects on winter lakes, and pioneering studies on climate change in shallow freshwater lakes. These works were published in scientifically acknowledged national and international journals (>100 articles) and in his book “Balaton in Change”. He was also the editor and editor-in-chief of several Hungarian (Annales Instituti Biologici Tihany, Hungarian Hydrobiology) and international journals, and gave lectures on limnology, hydrobiology and ichthyology in several Hungarian universities. During these years, he supervised a large number of undergraduate and postgraduate students and mentored many young researchers, both in Hungary and abroad. He was a fellow of a number of important and respected Hungarian and International Societies, including membership of the International Society of Limnology (SIL) since 1948 and represented Hungary between 1948 and 1965.
Well beyond his retirement he continued to work on various aspects of limnology, including on lake water quality problems. Moreover he continued lecturing at the Agricultural University of Godollő, the Technical University of Budapest, and Miskolc University. He was constantly working as a language interpreter, educational lecturer, and managed a scientific library started by his grandfather and continued by his father. He donated a good portion of these books, manuscripts and imprints to the Museum of Natural History in Zirc, and more valuable manuscripts were donated to the Hungarian National Museum of Natural History. Bela Entz will be remembered not only for his scientific works, but also for his wit, friendliness, fascinating stories, overall knowledge of life, and as a stimulating and very interesting person.