In Memoriam: Frank J. Mather


The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with great sorrow the death March 27, 2000 of Scientist Emeritus Frank Jewett Mather, III. Frank died at the JML Care Center in Falmouth after a brief illness at age 89.

Frank Mather was born March 16, 1911. He received his B.A. degree from Williams College in 1933 and B.S. degree from MIT in 1937. He became as naval architect and was involved in the shipbuilding industry from 1937 to 1939, then taught at MIT from 1939 to 1941. Frank worked at Naval Architect Gibbs and Cox in New York City from 1941 to 1945 designing ships for the war effort.

His passion for fish lured him into a career in fisheries research, and he is known worldwide for developing the first tagging program for large pelagic fish. He joined the WHOI staff in 1945 as a Research Associate, was promoted to Associate Scientist in 1973, and was appointed a Scientist Emeritus in the Biology Department in 1978. He began the Cooperative Game Fish Tagging Program in 1954. The program continues today under the director of the National Marine Fisheries Service, with whom Frank collaborated for many years. His research prompted the first active conservation measures for the Atlantic Bluefin tuna by the United States and demonstrated the need fore the Atlantic Tuna Convention Act of 1976.

His research interests included ,migration, population, distribution, general ecology, life history, taxonomy, and fisheries of large pelagic fish (tuna, marlin, and sailfish) and amber jack.

Frank was the author or co-author of about 35 scientific publications on large pelagic fishes and about 40 papers, working documents or articles presented at scientific or regulatory meetings. Frank was the first author and primary force behind the Historical Document: Life History and Fisheries of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna, a summary of the scientific information available on the Atlantic Bluefin tuna up until 1979.

He was a Trustee of the New England Aquarium from 1964 to 1977, and served as a board member and director of the Atlantic Tuna Club of Rhode Island. He also was a member of many fisheries societies and institutes.

He is survived by his wife, Natalie N. Mather, of Key Biscayne, Florida, and Woods Hole; children Willia V. Mather of Dolores Hidalgo, ME; Lee Townley of Brunswick, ME; Catherine Whited of Unity, ME; Arden Edwards and Richard Edwards, Jr., both of Woods Hole; eight grandchildren; a nephew, Richard Turner, of New York City; a niece, Elizabeth C. Turner of Newfoundland, PA; and several other nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held in August in Woods Hole and in the fall in Key Biscayne, Florida. Donations in Frank’s memory may be made to The Scholarship Association of Falmouth, P.O. Box 369, Falmouth, MA, 02541.


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