Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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POURTALES, Louis Francois de (poor-tah-lays), naturalist, born in Neuchatel, Switzerland. 4 March, 1824 ; died in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts, 19 July, 1880. He was educated as an engineer, but an early prediction for natural science led to his becoming a favorite pupil of Louis Agassiz, whom he accompanied in 1840 on his glacial explorations among the Alps. In 1847 he came with Agassiz to the United States and made his home in East Boston, and then in Cambridge, Massachusetts Pourtales entered the United States coast survey in 1848, and continued attached to that service until 1873. In 1851 he served in the triangulation of the Florida reef, and at that time collected numerous gephyreans and holothurians, which led to his special study of the bed of the ocean. He was the pioneer of deep-sea dredging in this country, and he lived to see that he had paved the way for similar researches both here and abroad. On the Hassler expedition from Massachusetts bay through the Straits of Magellan to California he had entire charge of the dredging operations. In 1854 he was placed in special charge of the field and office work of the tidal division of the coast survey, where he remained until his resignation. His most valuable work was in connection with marine zoology, and the large collections that he made were deposited in the Museum of comparative zoology in Cambridge. Their examination has resulted in special reports upon echinoderms, corals, crinoids, foraminifera, sponges, annelids, hydroids, bryozoa, mollusks, and crustacea, by the most eminent investigators of America and Europe, which were published principally in the bulletins of the museum. Pour-tales became assistant in zoology at the museum in 1873, and on the death of Louis Agassiz became its keeper. His name has been given to the genus Pourtalesia, a variety of sea-urchins. He was a member of various scientific societies, and had been elected to membership in the National academy of sciences. His writings are largely contained in the reports of the coast survey, but, in addition to valuable scientific papers in the "Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science" and the "American Journal of Science," he published, under the direction of the Museum of comparative zoology, "Contributions to the Fauna of the Gulf Stream at Great Depths" (part i., 1867; part ii., 1868); " List of the Crinoids obtained on the Coasts of Florida and Cuba in 1867-'9" (1869); " List of Holothuridge from the Deep-Sea Dredgings of the United States Coast Survey " (1869); " Deep-Sea Corals" (1871) ; "The Zoological Results of the Hassler Expedition," with Alexander Agassiz (1874) ; " Reports on the Dredging Operations of the United States Coast-Survey Steamer ' Blake'"; " Corals and Crinoids" (1878); and "Report on the Corals and Antipatharia " (1880).
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