This Day in History: 1754-02-17

Nicolas Baudin was born on this day. A French explorer and naturalist, best known as captain of the Baudin expedition to Australia (1800 – 1804) with the ships Le Géographe and Naturaliste. The purpose of the expedition was to establish a permanent colonial presence in the South Seas in competition with the British and to map the coast of Australia and New Guinea. The expedition started with a scientific crew of unprecedented size comprising 24 scientists, illustrators, and gardeners only six of which completed the journey, 12 left ship owing to illness and 6 died during the voyage; Baudin himself died in Mauritius on the return journey. Naturalists Péron and Lesueur managed to return to France with over 200,000 specimens, 2,500 of which were new to science.

Baudin (along with the expedition) is honoured in the bryzoan names Baudina geographae Gordon, 2009 and Baudina naturalistae Gordon, 2009, also in species names under baudini.