To our beloved friend and colleague

Dr. Mel Carriker

In Memorium

February 25, 1915 - February 25, 2007

* CarrikerFest 2001 * The Grove *  Mel's Books * Contributions & Links * Obituary *

Carriker Memorial Services

A memorial service for Mel was held at 1 p.m., Saturday, March 10th at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. The College of Earth, Ocean and Environment (CEOE) will also host a second memorial service at the Grove, adjacent to the Smith Laboratory on the CMES Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes, Delaware on Saturday May 5th at 4:00 pm. A Korean Bell will be added to the garden. It will be rung for the first time during the spring memorial ceremony and will be rung everytime a graduate student in Lewes successfully defends his or her thesis. The beginning of a tradition that would no doubt please Mel! On Sunday, May 6th, 2:00 pm at the annual Lewes Blessing of the Fleet at Lewes Harbor, a wreath will be laid on the water in Mel's memory.

Mel requested that any contributions in his memory be made to the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment for graduate students. In that spirit the College has established a Melbourne R. Carriker Student Fellowship Endowment. Friends who would like to receive more information about the May 5th memorial service should contact Peggy Conlon (

Note: This Web site was originally developed in 2001 to share photos and information related to a surprise party - Carrikerfest 2001 - held for Mel by his former graduate students in celebration of his 85th birthday. Mel was deeply touched by the party and gift of a contemplative garden - the Grove - developed in his honor. He enjoyed the Carrikerfest Web site so much that he continued to provide information for posting such as his latest books as they were published. It is with profound sadness to report of Mel's passing on his 92nd birthday from the complications of a stroke.

All those who knew Mel would agree that he was an extraodinary person - literally a gentleman and a scholar. He profoundly touched and influenced many lives over the course of his prolific lifetime, always having time to listen to, share his extensive knowledge and offer encouragement to students and others during his 34 year tenure with the University of Delaware College of Marine and Earth Studies (CMES).

This Web site will be maintained in his honor and your contributions of photos, anecdotes or other remberances are encouraged.

John W. Ewart

Cape Region Mourns Professor Emeritus Mel Carriker

By Molly Albertson
Cape Gazette staff

Dr. Melbourne R. “Mel” Carriker, 92, of Lewes, died Sunday, Feb. 25, 2007, at Beebe Medical Center in Lewes. The world’s leading expert on an invasive species of mollusks, Carriker lived in Lewes for more than three decades and was a founding professor of the College of Marine Studies.

In a 2005 Saltwater Portrait published in the Cape Gazette, the charming Carriker shared rich stories of growing up on a coffee plantation, moving to New York City as a child, serving in the U.S. Navy in the South Pacific during World War II, and living life to its fullest.

Carriker was born on Feb. 25, 1915, in Santa Marta, Columbia, South America, and moved to the United States with his parents Melbourne and Myrtle Carriker in 1927.

He wrote colorful descriptions of his life and the results of his scientific research in three books and more than 100 scientific publications. Carriker said he was always learning something new, which kept him young-at-heart. After writing for years by hand, and then learning the electric typewriter, Carriker at age 90 took computer classes so he could get his ideas published more quickly. Beyond loving the ocean and marine studies, which he had taught at the University of Delaware School of Marine Studies since 1973, he talked about passionately loving his wife, Meriel R. “Scottie” Carriker. After 63 years of marriage, 33 of them in Lewes, and a life together all over the world, his eyes twinkled when he talked about their plans for the future.

Carriker developed an interest in zoological research at an early age and graduated with honors from Rutgers University. He earned his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin. Carriker served as an assistant professor of zoology at Rutgers University and as an associate professor of zoology at the University of North Carolina. He served as the director of the Systematics Ecology Program, Marine Biology Laboratory at Woods Hole, Mass. In 1973, he was appointed professor of Marine Studies at the College of Marine Studies, where he was the world’s foremost expert on the oyster drill, a shell-penetrating muricid gastropod, a mollusk. He also did ecological studies of the hard clam. Although he no longer taught classes, students stopped by Carriker’s office just for a good story or to take a gander at the many collections and trinkets that lined his bookshelves and his walls.

Visitors didn’t have to ask Carriker to show off shells and fossils gathered over years of study. An impassioned scientist, he knew each shell sample had a story, and as he thumbed the surface, the colorful shells came alive with details only he would know.

The grandfather of six and great-grandfather of six, Carriker was a gracious and kind gentleman who would make many almost envy his grandchildren for the chance to sit and share stories.

Always busy, Carriker served as the official historian and past president for the National Shell Fisheries Association and was past president of the Delaware Chapter of Partners of the Americas.

Carriker and his wife are members of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Rehoboth Beach. He is survived by his wife; four sons, Eric Carriker and his wife Lynn of Natick, Mass., Bruce Carriker of Seaford, Neal Carriker and his wife Maureen of Gloucester, Mass., and Robert Carriker of Hudson, Mass.; a sister, Alvita Larimer of Stone Mountain, Ga.; and a brother, Howard Carriker of Phoenix, Ariz.

Memorial services will be held at 1 p.m., Saturday, March 10, at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Rehoboth Beach, with the Rev. Dr. Frank S. Deming Jr. officiating. Interment will be private.

Memorial contributions are suggested to the College of Marine Studies, 700 Pilottown Rd., Lewes, designated for the benefit of graduate students.

Arrangements are by Parsell Funeral Homes & Crematorium, Atkins-Lodge Chapel, Lewes.

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Contributions & Links


Career profile of Mel as part of a Shellfish Pioneers display at the
National Shellfisheries Association (NSA) Centennial Conference in Providence, Rhode Island


2003 National Shellfisheries Association (NSA) Honored Life Member Award Biography
by J. Evan Ward
Journal of Shellfish Research 22 (3): (611-613)


Interview with Melbourne R. Carriker
Rutgers Oral History Archives, New Brunswick History Department, October 29, 2004


Message from Ellen Paul, Executive Director of the Ornithological Council
David A. Wiedenfeld and Melbourne R. Carriker
1619 McFarland Avenue, Dalton, Georgia 30720, USA; and
23 Hoornkill Avenue, Lewes, Delaware 19958, USA
The Auk 124(1):342–343, 2007
© The American Ornithologists’ Union, 2007

Storrs Olson
Edited by Todd Engstrom
The Auk 124(1):357–361, 2007
© The American Ornithologists’ Union, 2007


Mel's Classic Video of the "Predatory Behavior of the Shell-Boring Snail Urosalpinx cinerea" restored and online

Carriker, M. R. and James G. Schaadt. 2007. Predatory Behavior of the Shell-Boring Snail Urosalpinx cinerea: A Sound, Color, Motion Picture. 15min. Film developed at MBL Woods Hole  in 1973, has been restored, re-edited, and reproduced for distribution by IWF Wissen und MediengGmbH, Nonnenstieg, Gottengen, Germany. See:

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CarrikerFest 2001

A surprise 85th birthday party for Mel organized by his former students
Saturday, March 31, 2001
Second Street Grille
Lewes, Delaware

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CarrikerFest 2001 Attendees
Front Row (left to right): Harlan Dean, Scottie, Mel, Bob Prezant, Todd Kamens
Back Row: Les Williams, Jerry Harasewych, Bob Palmer, Philip Nimeskern, John Ewart,
Clem Counts, Maria Counts, Nick Counts, Bets Brown, Townie Weeks, Greg Gruber

Mel's note to former CMES Dean Dr. Carolyn Thoroughgood

Harlan Dean describing the plans for the Melbourne R. Carriker "contemplative garden" to be located in the open space between Smith and Cannon Laboratories. The garden was presented to CMES by Mel's former students in his honor.

The garden design is by award winning landscape architect Chris Valenti.

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The CMES "Contemplative Garden" aka "The Grove"

Many thanks to the CMS Maintenance Crew, CMES contributors and to all of Mel's students who helped make this possible

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Mel's Books

In chronological order

Carriker, M. A., Jr. 2006. Experiences of an Ornithologist Along the Highways and Byways of Boliva, South America. Collecting Birds in an Isolated, Magnficent Land in the Nineteen Thirties. (Edited by M. R. Carriker and Robert C. Dalgleish). Many black and white photographs, and some color images of birds. Tables of new species of birds and of bird lice collected by M. A. Carriker, Jr. AuthorHouse, Bloomington, Indiana. 452 pages.

Carriker, M. R. 2005. The Bird Call of the Rio Beni. Ornithological adventures of a Father and Son. The Narrative Press. 226 pp. Many black and white photographs. Tables list new species of birds and bird chewing lice collected on the expedition.

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Carriker, M. R. 2004. Taming of the Oyster. A History of Evolving Shellfisheries and the National Shellfisheries Association. (Edited by Sandra Shumway). Many black and white photographs. Published by National Shellfisheries Association, printed by The Sheridan Press. 264 pages.

Carriker, M. R. 2001. Vista Nieve. (Spanish Edition, translated by Clara and Vera Perez). Federacion Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia. Many black and white photographs. Chinchina, Federacafe. 264 pages.

Carriker, M. R. 2000. Vista Nieve. The Remarkable True Adventures of an Early Twentieth Century Naturalist and His Family in Colombia, South America. Many black and white photographs. Blue Mantle Press, Rio Hondo, Texas. 312 pages.

* CarrikerFest 2001 * The Grove *  Mel's Books * Contributions * Obituary *

Please send your comments, suggestions and other material for posting to <>