Pieter Bleeker

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Pieter Bleeker

Pieter Bleeker (July 10, 1819, Zaandam – January 24, 1878, The Hague) was a Dutch medical doctor, ichthyologist, and herpetologist. He was famous for the Atlas Ichthyologique des Orientales Neerlandaises, his monumental work on the fishes of East Asia; it was published between 1862 and 1877.


Bleeker was employed as a medical officer in the Dutch East Indian Army from 1842 to 1860, stationed in Indonesia. During that time, he did most of his ichthyology work, besides his duties in the army. He acquired many of his specimens from local fishermen, but he also built up an extended network of contacts who would send him specimens from various government outposts throughout the islands.

During his time in Indonesia, he collected well over 12,000 specimens, many of which currently reside at the Natural History Museum in Leiden.

Pieter Bleeker

After his return to the Netherlands in 1860, he started publishing the Atlas Ichthyologique, a comprehensive account of his studies done in Indonesia, featuring over 1,500 illustrations. It was published in 36 volumes between 1862 and his death in 1878. Between 1977 and 1983, the Smithsonian republished the work in 10 volumes.

Bleeker published more than 500 papers on ichthyology, describing 511 new genera and 1,925 new species.

He also worked in herpetology, describing at least 14 species of reptiles,[1][2] most of them described in Reptilien van Agam.[3]

In 1855, he became correspondent of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 1862 a member.[4]


  1. ^ Bleeker P. 1860. "Over de Reptiliën-fauna van Sumatra". Natuurkundig Tijdschrift voor Nederlandsch Indië (Nat. Tijdschr. Ned. Ind.) 21: 284-298.
  2. ^ The Reptile Database. www.reptile-database.org.
  3. ^ Bleeker, P. 1860 Reptilien van Agam. Natuurkundig Tijdschrift voor Nederlandsch Indie, Batavia, 20: 325-329
  4. ^ "Pieter Bleeker (1819 - 1878)". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Beolens B, Watkins M, Grayson M. 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. ("Bleeker", p. 28).
  • Bleeker P, van Oijen MJP, Loots GMP, van Limburg FJG. 2009. A precursor of the fish of the Indian Archipelago. Part 1: Siluri. Zoologische Mededelingen 83: 1–317. PDF
  • Norman D, Whitehead PJP. 1984. The Bleeker/Günther letters and the sale of Bleeker specimens to the British Museum. Zoologische Mededelingen 58: 295–312. PDF
  • Whitehead PJP, Boeseman M, Wheeler AC. 1966. The types of Bleeker's Indo-Pacific Elopoid and Clupeoid Fishes. Zoologische Verhandelingen 84: 1–152. PDF