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Frederick M. ‘Ted’ Bayer, 85; expert in soft coral classification and study

From Times staff and wire reports

Frederick M. “Ted” Bayer, 85, an emeritus curator at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History and a deep-sea biologist who specialized in the study and classification of soft corals, died Oct. 2 at a Washington, D.C., hospice. He had congestive heart failure.

Bayer worked at the museum from 1947 to 1961 and again from 1975 to 1996. In the interim, he was a professor at the University of Miami’s marine science school. He wrote scholarly books and more than 130 papers on the natural history and taxonomy of soft corals, among them octocorals such as sea fans and sea whips. He described more than 170 new species, 40 new genera and three new families.

Bayer was born in Asbury Park, N.J., and raised in South Florida, where he became an amateur naturalist and a collector of seashells. He served as a photographic technician in the Army Air Forces in the Pacific during World War II.

A graduate of Miami University, he earned a master’s degree in taxonomy from George Washington University in 1954 and a doctorate from the same school in 1958.

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