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Working as a Marine Biologist: What is it Really Like?

If you have a strong interest in working with animals and studying ocean and marine sciences, you may have considered a career as a marine biologist. But what is the definition of marine biology and what is it really like to grow in this career? Marine biologists, also known as ocean scientists, typically take on research roles and are trained to use various types of equipment and techniques to conduct experiments. Every day on the job will be different, and many graduates of marine biology universities spend a good time at sea or in the field as they conduct various lab tests and scientific experiments. You might also be involved in a special project such as a rescue mission or short-term assignment overseas at some point in your career.  Marine biologists are typically hired by private companies, research centers, public companies, and universities.

Examples of Marine Biologist Tasks and Projects

Marine biologists often take on a variety of research roles and are assigned very specific tasks. They are usually involved with conducting a series of experiments in the field and must use certain reporting techniques to compile all of the data and information they have acquired from their research. Some examples of tasks and projects someone in this field might undertake include:

  • Researching the effects of ocean acidification
  • Studying novel marine bacteria
  • Helping companies or different industries make better, sustainable food choices
  • Learning about whale and dolphin behavior
  • Studying new oceanic compounds that could be used to make medication
  • Tracking behavior and migrations of ocean animals
  • Studying marine creatures in tide pools

Marine Biology: Nature of the Work

The field of marine biology is actually very broad and encompasses a number of different disciplines. Even though many people think that people in this career simply study marine life and perform various types of tests, graduates of shools that offer marine biology typically specialize in just one area and will study a specific species or ecosystem that marine organisms live in. For example, marine biotechnologists work solely on studying marine organisms that help to develop drugs to cure disease. Aquaculturists, on the other hand, study shellfish and seaweed and work on improving the output of commercial fishing farms. Others in this field might study the different diseases affecting the fish population.

Here’s a breakdown of the different types of fields and roles you could explore during your career:

  • Marine biotechnologist – studies marine organisms in order to develop drugs that are used to cure human disease and other health problems.
  • Molecular biologist – investigates the causes of certain diseases and studies marine ecosystems and marine organisms using molecular research and analysis processes.
  • Environmental biologists and toxicologists – study the effects of different types of toxic substances in the marine environment and how these affect our society. These types of marine biologists often work with local, state, and federal officials to help them design laws, regulations, and cleanup measures to protect the environment.
  • Aquaculturist – studies the farming of seaweed, shellfish, and finfish to improve output levels on commercial farms. These types of ocean scientists might also work on projects that help eliminate diseases that affect the fish population.

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