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Contact: Diana Kenney, 508-289-7139; dkenney@mbl.edu

John Valois, Longtime Specimen Collector and Naturalist, Honored at the Marine Biological Laboratory

WOODS HOLE, MA—In honor of John J. Valois’ long affiliation with and professional dedication to the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) and the Woods Hole community, a public tribute and reception was held on July 19 from 3 PM to 4:30 PM in the Meigs Room, Swope Center, Marine Biological Laboratory, 5 North Street, Woods Hole.

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John Valois

John J. Valois by R. Howard. Click for full size image.

From 1970 to his retirement in 1990, Mr. Valois managed the MBL Supply Department (now the Marine Resources Center), which oversees the collection and husbandry of local marine animals used for research, including among others the Atlantic squid, sea urchin, horseshoe crab, and surf clam. Prior to that, Mr. Valois was the collector and boat captain for the Supply Department for 13 years, regularly piloting the Limulus on collecting trips, and from 1950 to 1957 he was a member of the department’s crew, working onboard the Nereis. While managing the department, Mr. Valois was responsible for having the Gemma built, which is still used for MBL collecting today.

During his tenure, Mr. Valois gathered a great deal of knowledge about the animals he collected and their natural history, and about changes and trends in the ecosystems in which they were found. He took a special interest in keeping up with contemporary science and new specimens being used, and evaluating whether they might be found off Cape Cod or regionally, and if so, where. “I followed the research, and saw how the animals were used for science,” Mr. Valois has said. He was dedicated to the idea that not only should the collectors understand the research science, the scientists should understand what the collectors encountered in the ocean. When he became manager of the Supply Department in 1970, his first goal was to improve communication between the two groups.

It was “one of the most wonderful jobs anyone could ever have,” Mr. Valois has said.

A longtime resident of Woods Hole, Mr. Valois earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Boston University in 1951 and attended Tufts University for graduate work. His wife, Freddy, is retired from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, where she was a research specialist.

The July 19 tribute will include the dedication of the John J. Valois Tank Room in the MBL Marine Resources Center. Tours of the tank room will be provided after the event.


The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) is dedicated to scientific discovery and improving the human condition through research and education in biology, biomedicine, and environmental science. Founded in 1888 in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, the MBL is an independent, nonprofit corporation.