L. Eugene Cronin, an expert on the blue crab and a pioneer in Bay research who helped to initiate the Chesapeake restoration effort, died Dec. 18, 1998. He was 81.

Cronin, a past board member of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, was one of the most influential scientists in the Chesapeake Bay region and a leader in the field of estuarine science nationally and internationally. He was one of the key scientists whose concern about the decline of the Bay in the 1970s helped to trigger a five-year EPA study of the ecosystem, which led to the creation of the state-federal Chesapeake Bay Program in 1983.

A native of Aberdeen, MD, Cronin was an undergraduate at Western Maryland College and received his M.S. and Ph.D. at the University of Maryland. During a career that spanned five decades, he published more than 130 articles related to the biology of blue crabs, fish, oysters and the problems of pollution, resource management and the deterioration of the Chesapeake Bay.

He was appointed a biologist at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory in 1943, before moving in 1950 to the University of Delaware, where he directed the launching of a new marine laboratory. In 1955, he returned to CBL, where he served for 20 years as director, overseeing its move into the University of Maryland. From 1977 to 1984, he was director of the newly created Chesapeake Research Consortium, which helps to coordinate Bay-related research among the region's major universities. He remained a Professor Emeritus and Director Emeritus at CBL, now a part of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Studies.

After 1984, he served as a consultant, continuing to play an active role in the marine science community. He served on the Marine Board of the National Research Council, chaired the Environmental Advisory Board of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and has served on a large number of local, national and international commissions and boards.

He continued to be active in recent years, with much of his attention returning to the subject of his master's thesis, the blue crab. Only days before his death, he was working with a colleague on a blue crab treatise. In November 1998, he was one of seven prominent Bay scientists who participated in the "Across the Generations Dialogue" with students hoping to become the new generation of Bay researchers [See "New generation learns how Bay scientists navigated the way," Bay Journal December 1998].

For his many contributions to Bay science he was the second recipient, in 1994, of the Mathias Medal. Named for Charles "Mac" Mathias, a former U.S. senator from Maryland who is often called the father of the Bay restoration effort, the medal recognizes leading scientists who strive to both improve the understanding of the Bay ecosystem and fight for the use of good science in solving the Chesapeake's problems.

In addition to his wife, Alice, he is survived by three sons, John Arthur Cronin of Invermere, British Columbia, David Webber Cronin of Annapolis and Lewis Eugene Cronin Jr. of Annapolis; a brother, William Baker Cronin of Annapolis; and four grandchildren.