Defining Marine Biology

If you are interested in a career in ocean science or oceanography, you may have wondered, what is marine biology? What types of jobs can you find with a marine biology degree? Marine biologists are trained to study different life forms living in the ocean and are trained to use advanced research techniques to analyze plants, fish, marine mammals, organisms and ocean ecosystems. Marine biologists typically work as field researchers but are also involved with observing and analyzing marine life and behaviors.


The field of marine biology is tied to other types of ocean and environmental sciences including climatology, animal biology and molecular biology. If you are considering a career in this field, take some time to learn about marine biology and marine science, and its importance in the field of science today.

A Description of Marine Biology

Many people mistakenly believe that marine biology is exclusively the study of whales, seals and other marine mammals when answering the question, what is marine biology? While marine biologists do study these animals, they are also involved with studying and observing the organisms and animals that live in ocean environments and determining what causes certain types of behaviors between these animals. The study of marine biology typically encompasses the following subjects:

  • Analysis of plants, fish and ocean organisms
  • Study of marine mammals
  • Fish populations and their increase or decrease in various environments
  • Scientific method
  • Microbiology - the study of micro-organisms including bacteria, algae and viruses
  • Fisheries and aquaculture - focusing on sustainable seafood sources and ways to make the most of fish protein
  • Fisheries management
  • Environmental marine biology
  • Deep sea ecology
  • Ichthyology
  • Marine mammology - the study of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, sea lions and walruses)
  • Marine ethology - studying the behavior of marine animals

Importance of Marine Biology and Marine Science

The fields of marine biology and marine science are growing scientific fields and have fascinated scientists and researchers for thousands of years. Scientists estimate that approximately 5 percent of the world's oceans have yet to be explored, and marine biologists play an active role in unearthing new organisms and oceanic developments, and conducting studies to determine how the marine environment operates and supports life on planet Earth.

When you are trying to answer the question, what is marine biology?, consider taking a close look at the role and importance of marine biology and marine sciences. The outcome of many marine biology scientific studies and research projects includes improvements in the following areas:

  • Healthier oceans and plants
  • Better air quality with the dissolution of carbon dioxide
  • Recognition of sustainability and biodiversity
  • Research and product development applications
  • Biomedical applications
  • Discoveries of alternative energy resources
  • Discoveries of endangered species

Technological advances in the field of marine research allow marine biologists to explore the ocean using 3D imaging devices and other tools, operate ROVs (unmanned submarines) underwater and create simulations of underwater habitats. Satellites are now used to collect geographic ocean data and track marine life. The work of a marine biologist is evolving with these types of technological advances, and continues to be an attractive career path for those who have a passion for ocean sciences and research.