Lunz, George Robert, Jr.

February 27, 1909–December 17, 1969

Lunz joined the staff of the Charleston Museum in 1933 and worked primarily on invertebrates and published papers, mainly on crustaceans.

Museum curator, marine biologist. Lunz was born in Charleston on February 27, 1909, the son of George Robert Lunz and Mary Whilden Lofton. He graduated from Charleston High School and earned a B.S. (1930) and an M.S. (1932) from the College of Charleston. He received an honorary doctor of science from Clemson College in 1956. On September 2, 1934, he married Elsie Melchers. They had one daughter.

Lunz joined the staff of the Charleston Museum in 1933 and worked primarily on invertebrates and published papers, mainly on crustaceans. In July 1945 the board of trustees of the Charleston Museum agreed to a proposal by trustee H. Jermain Slocum to develop a laboratory for research on the cultivation of oysters, with Lunz serving as director and Slocum providing land and funding. The facility, eventually named Bears Bluff Laboratories, was located in Charleston County on Wadmalaw Island, southwest of the city. In January 1946 the laboratory at Bears Bluff was chartered by the state with its own board of trustees. For a time Lunz wore two hats–one at the museum, the other at Bears Bluff. That situation did not continue, and Lunz eventually left the museum to devote all of his time to Bears Bluff. Working long hours with limited resources, he developed a laboratory where both staff and visiting investigators contributed significantly to the understanding of the estuarine and marine environments of the state. Recognition of his expertise led to his becoming director of the Division of Commercial Fisheries of the South Carolina Wildlife Resources Department, a position he held from 1959 until his death.

Among the activities at Bears Bluff were pond culture of oysters and shrimp, fisheries management, studies of pollution biology, and investigations on the biology of species of fishes. Fifty-two Contributions from Bears Bluff Laboratories, documenting some of that work, appeared from June 1947 to December 1969, and Lunz published other papers on the estuarine and marine resources of South Carolina. Bears Bluff was used not only in research by resident scientists and visiting investigators, including scientists from other countries, but also from time to time in the education of undergraduate and graduate students. Lunz’s greatest contribution was his founding of the first facility in South Carolina dedicated to the study of wetland, estuarine, and marine environments. His pioneering work in oyster and shrimp culture, his appreciation of the importance of marshlands both to the marine environment and to the human species, and his efforts to awaken the public to the need of protecting wetlands from dredging, filling, draining, and pollution were major contributions. On December 17, 1969, Lunz died of cancer at Charleston’s Roper Hospital. He was buried in Magnolia Cemetery.

Lunz, Elsie M. Contribution Concerning Bears Bluff Laboratories, Wadmalaw Island, S.C., 1945–1969. N.p., 1970.

Sanders, Albert E., and William D. Anderson, Jr. Natural History Investigations in South Carolina from Colonial Times to the Present. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1999.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Lunz, George Robert, Jr.
  • Coverage February 27, 1909–December 17, 1969
  • Author
  • Keywords Museum curator, marine biologist, joined the staff of the Charleston Museum, becoming director of the Division of Commercial Fisheries of the South Carolina Wildlife Resources Department, Bears Bluff
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date December 3, 2021
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 28, 2017
Go to Top