It was great to see the Bob Hitz post in this collection of stories the University of Washington School of Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries has been publishing as part of its centennial. They have published a biographical sketch of Bell Shimada, adding much information about what has been available about this scientist who died in a plane crash in 1958. If his name sounds familiar, he’s been commemorated by a research vessel home ported at Newport, but his personal story should be more widely known.
The post provides much information that is new to us, and we’ve been interested in him since we first found his translations of Japanese fishery documents when we were working on our thesis in the late 1990s. He popped up again when we were researching the Supreme Commander Allied Powers documents at the national archives. And when we started to look at O. E. Sette, there he was again, stationed in Honolulu, at a time of enormously stimulating work in what we now call fisheries oceanography.
There is much valuable information here about his career at the University of Washington, cut short by the University’s expulsion of Japanese students in 1942 and his internment in Minidoka, Idaho. He volunteered for combat and was sent to the Pacific, ultimately arriving in Tokyo as part of the Occupation. After the war, he worked with Sette in the Honolulu, before accepting a job at the newly created Inter-America Tropical Tuna Commission in La Jolla.