March 4, 2007--Melbourne R. “Mel” Carriker, 92, professor emeritus of marine studies at the University of Delaware, died Feb. 25 at Beebe Medical Center in Lewes.
Dr. Carriker retired from the University in 1985 after 12 years of service. Before coming to Delaware, he was on the faculty at Rutgers University and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. He also was director of the systematics ecology program at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Mass.
Nancy M. Targett, dean of UD's College of Marine and Earth Studies, said, "Mel Carriker was a true scholar, but we will remember him for his gracious demeanor and his humanity. His students loved him. He was an inspiration to everyone who worked with him."
Born in Santa Marta, Colombia, Dr. Carriker was a veteran of the Navy and a member of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Rehoboth Beach.
He attended Rutgers University and the University of Wisconsin Madison, from which he earned his Ph.D. in 1943. He received an honorary doctor of science degree from Beloit College in 1968.His research interests included marine malacology, a branch of zoology focusing on snails, oysters, clams and other mollusks; estuarine ecology; and mariculture, or fish farming, especially in central and northern South America.
Dr. Carriker wrote extensively, in 2004 publishing the book Taming of the Oyster: A History of Evolving Shellfisheries and the National Shellfisheries Association, a detailed history of both the shellfish industry and the National Shellfisheries Association. In 2006, he edited the book Experiences of an Ornithologist Along the Highways and Byways of Bolivia, which detailed the adventures of his father, ornithologist Melbourne Armstrong Carriker Jr., curator of birds at the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences.
He also wrote Vista Nieve, about his growing-up years in Bolivia, and The Bird Call of the Rio Beni.
A grove in Dr. Carriker's honor was established in 2002 on the College of Marine and Earth Studies campus in Lewes, recognizing him as a “mentor, scholar and friend.”
In 1998, the National Shellfisheries Association established an annual student research grant in Dr. Carriker's honor, calling him "one of its most distinguished past presidents."
He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Meriel R. “Scottie” (McAllister) Carriker; four sons, Eric, Bruce, Neal and Robert; a sister, Alvita Larimer; a brother, Howard Carriker; and six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Services will be held at 1 p.m., Saturday, March 10, at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Rehoboth Beach. Interment will be private.
Memorial contributions may be made to the University of Delaware's College of Marine and Earth Studies, 700 Pilottown Rd., Lewes, DE 19958, and designated for the benefit of graduate students.