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The Mörzer Bruijns Foundation /

Background of the Mörzer Bruijns Foundation

The Mörzer Bruijns Foundation was established in December 2007 and was named after the Dutch twin brothers M.F. Mörzer Bruijns (1913-2004) and W.F.J. Mörzer Bruijns (1913-1996). The brothers Mörzer Bruijns became interested in nature at a very early age. It proved to be a passion that they would never lose, but which both of them fulfilled in their own manner entirely. For although the brothers began their careers in and around nature together, after secondary school they went their own way.

In 1931 M.F. Mörzer Bruijns was about to leave his parental home in Bussum for Utrecht, to begin his studies in biology. In the same year his brother went to nautical college, and after that began work in the ocean-going trade. In fact, this way both boys fulfilled a part of their shared boyhood dream. Inspired by their biology teacher they had founded their 'friends of nature club', while they were also determined to carry on the family seagoing tradition.


M.F.Mörzer Bruijns

After M.F. Mörzer Bruijns had passed his Master exams in chemistry, pedology (soil study) and biology with distinction, he took up work as a lecturer at the Secondary Colonial University of Agriculture in Deventer. Although the war was on at the time, in his free time he did research on the relation between mollusks and plant communities in the dales of Overijssel. It proved to be a fruitful project, for after the war he obtained his doctorate with distinction, with a dissertation titled Over levensgemeenschappen (On life communities).

As a young doctor he started working at the Dutch Forestry Commission. As a nature protection consultant he was able to convince the organisation to found its own research institute. The Dutch Institute for Field Biological Research for the benefit of Nature Conservation (RIVON) exists to this day under the name Alterra. M.F. Mörzer Bruijns was the manager of the institute from 1957 to 1970. In addition, he became lecturer in nature conservation at the University of Agriculture in Wageningen, presently Wageningen University. At the same university he became extraordinary professor in 1964, and full professor in 1970. With this he became the first professor in nature conservation and stewardship in the Netherlands.

Besides his academic work M.F. Mörzer Bruijns filled various social positions. These always concerned the the protection of nature. He was vice-president of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), delegate of the Dutch government to the Nature Protection Commission of the Council of Europe. co-founder of and advisor to the World Wildlife Fund International, member of the Dutch Commission for the International Protection of Nature, and chairman of both the Dutch and the European department of the International Council for Bird Preservation (ICBP), to name but a few positions.

While M.F. Mörzer Bruijns worked in natural science, his brother W.F.J. Mörzer Bruijns made a career for himself as a seaman. He initially worked at the Netherlands Steamship Company, was subsequently trained as an officer in the Dutch navy, and then returned to the merchant navy. The Second World War brought him great change. During the German invasion of the Netherlands, on the tenth of May in 1940, he was second mate aboard the Poelau Tello in Philadelphia. As a reserve officer in the Dutch navy he was drafted and spent the Second World War on sea. He carried out several missions on Dutch submarines in the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, and later the Indian Ocean around Australia and Indonesia. He did not return to the Netherlands until 1947.

After his last mission, commanding the submarine Hr.Mr.O21, he turned his back on the navy and decided to resume sailing in the merchant navy. In 1951 he was promoted to captain aboard the SS Singskep. From that moment on he had time once more to pick up his old pastime. While he sailed the oceans he began to make careful notes of the appearance of dolphins, whales and seabirds. On route maps he kept count of distance, direction and meteorological conditions. He would continue to do so for the rest of his life. Eventually this led to a number of books and articles. Many of W.F.J. Mörzer Bruijns's seabird observations were made into international publications. A description of the Hawaiian Shearwater (Puffinus [puffinus] newelli), considered extinct at the time, is one of the highlights. Others too have made ample use of his sources. The book The birds of Sumatra by Voous and Van Marle, for instance, was partly based on his observations in the seas around Sumatra.


Capt W.F.J.Mörzer Bruijns

In 1963 W.F.J. Mörzer Bruijns became Commodore, and the last captain of the flagship of the Netherland Line, the MS Oranje. Seven years later he went on his last great voyage as captain. Since he had never had a precise description of whales and dolphins at his disposal as a captain, Mörzer Bruijns decided to write such a book himself. This led to the Field guide to whales and dolphins, after his retirement. Although this book is his best known publication, it would certainly not be his last. He wrote various articles and held countless lectures in association with the World Wildlife Fund and in these the protection of whales and dolphins was pivotal.


Tijmen Veldhuizen

The life work of the two brothers was the inspiration for the grandson of Capt. W.F.J. Mörzer Bruijns and nephew of Prof. Dr. M.F. Mörzer Bruijns to start this foundation. Tijmen Veldhuizen (1981) travelled through Australia and Papua New Guinea as a scuba instructor after which he studied marine biology at the university of Groningen (RUG). He pursued his interest in film by joining the London Filmschool (LFS) and completed his MA in filmmaking there. Currently he works as a filmmaker in London at Mosquito Productions. By founding the MBS he hopes to give a new direction to wildlife conservation.