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Friday, April 19, 2013

Tom Berman, Israeli professor found dead while in Galapagos Islands on vacation

An Israeli marine biologist was found dead in the Galapagos Islands after he apparently tripped and fell as he hiked to a popular tourist site.

Tom Berman, 79, left his hotel in the city of Puerto Ayora on Saturday to visit the popular Las Grietas Lagoons, and when he failed to return by the afternoon authorities were alerted to his disappearance. After a search, his body was discovered the following day about 120 meters from the marked trail he was supposed to be following, Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Wednesday.

Berman is survived by his wife and three daughters, and seven grandchildren.

Berman escaped from Nazi Germany and decades later was reunited with his cousin, the only other survivor from his family. Ever since their first reunion in 1971 the two made a point of meeting yearly, and Berman was on his way to visit his cousin at home in Chile when he decided to fulfill a lifelong dream and visit the Galapagos Islands.

Berman’s daughter Rina said that although family members were shocked by the news, they drew comfort knowing that her father died doing something he had always wanted to do.

Berman was a world-renowned authority on aquatic microbiology, and worked on desalination and water purification projects around the world. He also established a laboratory to research the Sea of Galilee. In 2012 Berman won a Life Achievement award from the Israel Association for Aquatic Sciences.

The Galapagos chain of volcanic islands lies 960 kilometers (600 miles) east of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. The archipelago is famous for its unique marine and wildlife. The islands were visited by Charles Darwin during the famous exploratory voyage that led to him to author “The Origin of the Species.

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