Archie Carr

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Archie Carr
Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge 002.jpg
BornJune 16, 1909
DiedMay 21, 1987(1987-05-21) (aged 77)
Alma materUniversity of Florida
Known forWorld authority on sea turtles
Spouse(s)Marjorie Harris Carr
AwardsDaniel Giraud Elliot Medal (1952)
Scientific career
Conservation Biology
Marine Biology
InstitutionsUniversity of Florida

Archie Fairly Carr, Jr. (June 16, 1909 – May 21, 1987) was an American herpetologist, ecologist and a pioneering conservationist. He was a Professor of Zoology at the University of Florida. In 1987 he was awarded the Eminent Ecologist Award by the Ecological Society of America. He made extraordinary contribution to sea turtle conservation by way of bringing attention to the world's declining turtle populations due to over-exploitation and loss of safe habitat.


Born in Mobile, Alabama, Carr was the son of a Presbyterian pastor, and grew up in Mobile, Fort Worth, Texas, and Savannah, Georgia. He studied zoology at the University of Florida, eventually specializing in herpetology. He further refined that interest to the study of turtles and eventually became one of the world's foremost authorities on sea turtles. He was married to Marjorie Harris Carr, a conservationist herself.

While a student at UF, he became a member of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity.[1] From UF, he received bachelor's degree in 1932, M.S. in 1934, and Ph.D. in 1937.[2]

He started out as a high school science teacher before becoming a college professor. He published numerous books and articles, including Ulendo: Travels of a Naturalist in and out of Africa, High Jungles and Low, So Excellent a Fishe (about his green turtles), The Windward Road and several Time-Life books such as The Everglades and The Reptiles. He was also the author of the Handbook of Turtles, and with Coleman J. Goin, Guide to the Reptiles, Amphibians and Freshwater Fishes of Florida. While a serious scientific and nature writer, he also had a remarkable sense of humor, which led him to publish the parody of scientific taxonomic keys - his A Subjective Key to the Fishes of Alachua County, Florida, affectionately known as the "Carr Key".

Carr became a bit of a legend at the University of Florida, and students vied with one another to take his Community Ecology course in which they were involved in several major and minor field trips around northern Florida and southern Georgia. Listening to Carr talk about the Sand Pine scrub near Ocala or his comments as he guided students through the Okefenokee Swamp in canoes was considered a great privilege.[citation needed]

Carr was also known for his efforts in conservation, especially for sea turtles, helping convince Costa Rica to establish Tortuguero National Park in 1975. He was a co-founder of the Caribbean Conservation Corporation, which helps to save and monitor sea turtles in Tortuguero, Costa Rica. He was often joined in his conservation work by his wife Marjorie Carr, who was a major advocate for conservation in her own right. In 1952 Carr was awarded the Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal from the National Academy of Sciences.[3]


  • Founder and Scientific Director of Sea Turtle Conservancy (formerly Caribbean Conservation Corporation) from 1959 until his death in 1987.
  • The Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, which covers the beaches from Melbourne Beach south to Wabasso Beach was set up in 1994 in honor of his efforts.
  • In 1994, the Dr. Archie Carr Wildlife Refuge was established in Costa Rica in his memory.
  • Carr's son, Archie Carr III, is a conservationist who coordinated Central American programs for the New York Zoological Society (now known as the Wildlife Conservation Society); Carr III was instrumental in establishing the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary in Belize.
  • A book about Carr entitled The Man Who Saved Sea Turtles: Archie Carr and the Origins of Conservation was recently published by Oxford University Press. This book was written by Frederick R. Davis, Assistant Professor of History at the Florida State University.
  • Carr's work is referenced in the 1985 romantic-drama film Turtle Diary.
  • The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has named its newest building after Archie and Marjorie Carr.
  • Carr is commemorated in the scientific name of a species of snake, Sibon carri.[4]


  • Carr, Archie (1952). Handbook of Turtles; the Turtles of the United States, Canada, and Baja California.
  • Carr, Archie (1953). High Jungles and Low.[5]
  • Carr, Archie, and Coleman J. Goin (1955). Guide to the Reptiles, Amphibians, and Fresh-water Fishes of Florida.
  • Carr, Archie (1963). The Reptiles (Series: LIFE Nature Library).
  • Carr, Archie (1964). Ulendo: Travels of a Naturalist in and out of Africa.[6]
  • Carr, Archie (1967, 1984). So Excellent a Fishe: A Natural History of Sea Turtles. (ISBN 0-292-77595-4).
  • Carr, Archie (1973). The Everglades. (Time-Life Book).
  • Carr, Archie (1979). The Windward Road (ISBN 0-8130-0639-2). Carr, Archie (June 26, 2013). 2013 edition. ISBN 978-0307832115.
  • Carr, Archie (Marjorie Carr, editor) (1994). A Naturalist in Florida: A Celebration of Eden. (ISBN 0-300-05589-7).[7] Carr, Archie (September 1996). 1996 edition. ISBN 978-0300068542; pbk

Academic genealogy[edit]

Archie Carr graduated with his PHD in 1938 from the University of Florida under J.S. Rogers. His academic ancestry passes from Rogers (PHD 1929 University of Illinois), through Stephen Alfred Forbes (PHD 1884 Indiana University) (the first Chief of the Illinois Natural History Survey and a founder of aquatic ecosystem science[8]), the eminent evolutionary biologist and ecologist David Starr Jordan (PHD 1872 Cornell), to Louis Agassiz (PHD 1829 Munich, Germany) the eminent ichthyologist, geologist, and natural historian. Carr advised and graduated 18 PHD students while faculty at the University of Florida: D.A. Belkin (1961), Karen A. Bjorndal (1979), D.K. Caldwell (1957), S.P. Christman (1975), M.J. Corn (1981), J.W. Crenshaw, Jr. (1955), D.C. Dietz (1979), D.W. Ehrenfeld (1966), D.E. Goodman (1971), E.V. Gourley (1969), H.F. Hirth (1962), C.G. Jackson (1964), J.F. Jackson (1972), A.B. Meylan (1984), J.A. Mortimer (1981), Robert H. Mount (1961), Peter C. Pritchard (1969), and Douglas A. Rossman (1962).[9]


  1. ^ The Seminole Yearbook. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida. 1932. p. 41.
  2. ^ Brody, Jane E. (May 23, 1987). "Archie Carr, zoologist, dies; devoted career to sea turtle". NY Times.
  3. ^ "Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal". National Academy of Sciences. Archived from the original on June 4, 2011. Retrieved February 15, 2011.
  4. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. ("Carr", p. 48).
  5. ^ Lobeck, A. K. (April 1955). "Review of High Jungles and Low by Archie Carr". Geographical Review. 45 (2): 305–307. doi:10.2307/212252. JSTOR 212252.
  6. ^ Review of Ulendo: Travels of a Naturalist in and out of Africa by Archie Carr. Kirkus Reviews. 1964.
  7. ^ Ellison, Aaron M. (March 1995). "Review of A Naturalist in Florida: A Celebration of Eden by Archie Carr; edited by Marjorie Harris Carr". The Quarterly Review of Biology. 70 (1): 62–63. doi:10.1086/418871.
  8. ^ Illinois Natural History Survey
  9. ^ Adler, Kraig, editor (2012). Contributions to the History of Herpetology. Volume 3. Vancouver, British Columbia: Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. 564 pp. ISBN 9780916984823.

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