In Memoriam: James Edward Craddock


The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with great sorrow the death of Oceanographer Emeritus Jim Craddock on June 7, at Massachusetts General Hospital from complications of pneumonia.  He was 71.

Born in Louisville, KY, Jim came to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in December 1964 as a post-doctoral fellow and began working under the sponsorship of Senior Scientist Richard Backus. As an ichthyologist, Jim’s experience before coming to Woods Hole had been limited to freshwater fishes, but he shortly made the first of his many cruises to collect the small fishes of the upper 2000-3000 feet of the deep Atlantic, using mid-water trawls for the purpose. In a few years he was an acknowledged expert in the ocean-wide distribution and systematics of this fauna, which comprises hundreds of species. One of his specialties was the study of the calcareous little ear-stones, or otoliths, of these fishes. Otoliths are indigestible and therefore long-retained in the stomachs of predators, and because they are distinctive for each species, they can be useful in studies of the food habits of fish-eating animals. An article representative of this research, the “Food Habits of Atlantic White-sided Dolphins (Lagenorhyncus acutus) off the Coast of New England,” will appear in the July 2009 Fisheries Bulletin. Altogether Jim was the author or co-author of more than 25 articles, most on the ecology and distribution of mesopelagic fishes, among which is Scopelosaurus craddocki

Jim became an Associate at Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ) following the donation by Dick Backus and Jim, over thirty years ago, of the enormous, partially identified WHOI fish collection, a transfer made with the help of the National Science Foundation. During the 1980s and early 1990s Jim often went to the MCZ to work with curator Karsten Hartel on further identifying material in the collection, thereby increasing its value to researchers. Jim’s contributions to the MCZ were recognized when in 2004 a deep-water species was named Eustomias jimcraddocki.

Offered a full scholarship by the Ford Foundation to a college of his choice, Jim chose to stay in Louisville, graduating from the University of Louisville with an A.B. in Biology in 1958 and a PhD. in Zoology in 1965. During his years as a graduate student, he was a research assistant in radioassay for a project between the University of Louisville and Oranco as well as for the Doe Run Project between the University of Louisville and the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. An outstanding athlete in his youth, successful at every sport he tried, Jim held both Kentucky state and southeastern swimming championships, and he represented the University of Louisville swim team. He was an outstanding basketball player. A naturalist, he loved especially birds, fish, plants, and trees. The diversity of rhododendrons, Japanese maples, dwarf conifers, and trees making up his personal garden—a natural attractant for birds—speaks to those passions.

Jim leaves his wife, Thelma Fenster, and a son and daughter from a first marriage: James Hill Craddock, now of Chattanooga, TN, and Anne Craddock DeCorte, now of Charlottesville, VA. He leaves a grandson, Emilio Craddock, and daughter-in-law, Paola Zannini; a granddaughter, Arianna DeCorte, and son-in-law, Diego DeCorte. He is also survived by his brother, Keith Craddock, of Bloomington, IN, and his sister, Sina Miller, of Brentwood, TN, and their families.

A memorial gathering is planned for 11 a.m., Saturday, August 1, at Fisher House, Church Street, Woods Hole.


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