Louis François de Pourtalès

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Louis François de Pourtalès
Louis Francois de Pourtales.jpg
Born(1824-03-04)4 March 1824[1]
Died17 July 1880 (1880-07-18) (aged 56)

Louis François de Pourtalès (4 March 1824 – 17 July 1880) was an American naturalist, born at Neuchâtel, Switzerland.


He was a pupil of Louis Agassiz, whom he accompanied in 1840 on glacial expeditions in the Alps and in 1847 to the United States, where in 1848 he entered the government Coast Survey. In 1851 he assisted in the triangulation of the Florida Reef, and from 1854 until his resignation in 1873 had special charge of the office and field work of the tidal department of the Coast Survey.

In 1873 he became custodian of the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, in which he had previously been assistant in zoology. Agassiz attempted to get him a professorship.[2]

He was the first in the United States to undertake deep-sea dredging with USC&GS George S. Blake, and was an authority on marine zoölogy. The name Pourtalesia was given to a genus of sea urchins. De Pourtales presented his extensive collections to the Harvard Museum. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and wrote various contributions to the Coast Survey reports, to Benjamin Silliman's American Journal of Science, and to the Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


He published, under the auspices of the museum, several works, including:

  • Contributions to the Fauna of the Gulf Stream at Great Depths. University Press. 1867–1868.
  • Deep-Sea Corals. University Press: Welch, Bigelow, & Company. 1871.
  • Echini, crinoids, and corals. University Press. 1876.
  • Corals and Crinoids (1878)
  • Report on the Corals and Antipatharia (1880)


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