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High Tech Tools Used in Marine Biology

So much research is involved in the study of marine biology. First, marine biology college graduates must have some sort of question he/she wants to work out. Then, it is important that among all the things the marine biologist does, is to locate this thing in question in the blue sea. When the object of interest is found, it is important to observe it and study the environment in which it is living. Sometimes it is necessary to take the subject out of its original home, and transfer it to a laboratory for closer inspection or tests. All the data a marine biologist compiles is transferred to a computer. From there, computer skills are needed in order to analyze the material.

Many times a marine biologist’s research will start on a boat so that the researcher is able to travel to the location he/she wishes to observe. Often this researcher will be equipped with surveying equipment. Sometimes, a marine biologist will take samples using things like large nets–more specifically: beach seines, bottom trawls, and plankton nets. Dredgers may also be used in order to take samples. Sometimes, a researcher will use things like grabbers–ekman grabs, petersen grabs, and wash buckets–to get the specimens they need. Of course it is possible that the marine biologist will jump in themselves to gather the samples he/she wants to study. This would require scuba gear. Specimens found must be preserved. Bottles for sampling (like nansens, surface sample bottles, and van dorn bottles) and also bags and buckets are carried in the boat for this purpose.

If, in fact, a marine biologist can observe the specimen without taking samples back to a lab than tools such as satellite tagging, photo-identification technology, critter cams, and hydrophones may be used.  Other underwater observation equipment, like remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), are also used. The environment an organism lives in is important to observe in order to understand that organism’s behavior. Tools that help a marine biologist gain information about the environment include: thermometers (to measure the water’s temperature), bathythermographs (which is like an advanced thermometer and measures changes in water temperature versus depth, and records pressure and temperature changes as it is lowered into the sea), hydrometers (which measure density of liquids), salinometers (which measure salinity of water), oxygen probes (an atmospheric-monitoring device), chemical test kits, current meters (that measure velocity of current), and fathometers (which are sonic depth finders). These tests must be repeated for precision and accuracy. GPS and satellites make it possible for a marine biologist to return to the same research spot over and over again.

If, instead of observation in the original territory, the researcher does take the specimen to a laboratory, many different kinds of tools may be used to study the subject. For instance, the researcher will probably have to place his/her subject in a saltwater tank to keep it living in order to observe its behavior. A microscope may be used in order to observe a small organism closely. An incubator might be necessary to make sure light and temperature are consistent. Flow chambers may be used to alter the subject’s environment. It is possible that this process may be recorded with a video camera in order to preserve these observations for later analysis.

The information that the marine biologist records, together with the information from the sampling sampling equipment, and the data gathered by the observation tools are then imported into a computer. In addition to completing marine biology courses, they must be computer savvy in order to run programs that make sense of all the data and statistics.

So there you have it, the tools a marine biologist needs from the moment they leave the dock to the ending processes of analyzation of the data.

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