This Day in History: 1796-05-17

Karl Heinrich Mertens (1796 – 1830) was born on this day.
He was a German botanist and naturalist, son of the botanist Franz Carl Mertens. Mertens was a member of the scientific team aboard the Russian ship Senyavin under Captain Lieutenant Fedor Petrovich Litke with orders to explore the coasts of Russian America and Asia (1826-29), one of the most productive voyages of discovery sent out in the nineteenth century, with over 1000 new species of insects, fish, birds, and other animals being collected and described, along with 2 500 specimens of plants, algae, and rocks.

Mertens described numerous taxa and is honoured in the name of a family and genus of ctenophores and in the names of a number of species under mertensi(i) and mertensiana.