marine biology

From a Pond to the Ocean: A Guide to What is Marine Biology

Marine biology is the area of science that studies the ocean’s organisms as well as marine and brackish bodies of water. In its method, marine biology groups species according to the environment instead of on taxonomy. It also differs from marine ecology because marine biology studies the organisms themselves, whereas marine ecology centers on the interaction between the organisms and the environment. The scope of marine biology is vast, covering microscopic life forms like plankton and huge animals like whales. In order to create a healthy, nice garden pond it is useful to be familiar with some basic concepts of marine biology.

What is Marine Biology?

Marine biology is a science that studies a vast area of water. One habitat that marine biology studies is the small layers of surface water, where abiotic items and organisms are caught in surface tension between the atmosphere and the ocean.

At the other end of the range is the habitat of the oceanic trenches, which can at times lie up to 10,000 meters underneath the surface of the ocean. Other habitats that marine biologists study are kelp forests, coral reefs, tidepools, the open ocean zone (where there is a rarity of solid objects and the water’s surface is actually the sole visible boundary), and muddy, rocky and sandy ocean bottoms.

Marine biology understands that marine life is a great resource that provides raw materials as well as food and medicine. In addition, marine life is also a resource for tourist industries across the world, supporting recreation. This science is highly important since a huge amount of the life on the planet lives in the oceans. Since many species are still unknown, marine biology is also important because of the potential for discoveries in the future.

History & Accomplishments of Marine Biology

Historically, marine biology dates as far back as the year 1200 BC, when oceanic voyages using celestial navigation began to be spearheaded by the ancient Phoenicians. It was only Aristotle and his writings, circa 384 BC to 322 BC, that first recorded the earliest particular references to marine life. In his writings, Aristotle specified a variety of marine species like echinoderms, crustaceans, fish and mollusks. He is often thought of as the father of marine biology because he is credited with first recording observations of marine life.

Marine biology’s modern study started with Captain James Cook and his exploration in 18th-century Britain. After Cook, Charles Darwin’s expeditions aboard the HMS Beagle contributed further to early marine biology. A huge accomplishment was delivered only a few years later by the exploration of the British vessel HMS Challenger, when the findings from this expedition filled 50 volumes and served as the foundation of future marine biology study for years thereafter. These successful expeditions soon led to the creation of marine laboratories like the oldest one of its kind in the world, France’s Station Biologique de Roscoff in 1859. In the 20th century, famous explorers like Robert Ballard and Jacques Cousteau made even further inroads into the study of marine biology.

What Careers are in Marine Biology?

Closely linked to biology, marine biology is defined as a branch of oceanography; it also touches on some ideas that are covered in ecology. Environmental studies, marine conservation and fisheries can all be thought of as offshoots of marine biology. Before deciding on a professional career in marine biology, the prospective student may want to consider his subfield, particularly because marine biology is a vast subject of study. The subfields in marine biology revolve mainly around studying specialties of certain animal groups. Phycology (study of algae), invertebrate zoology (study of invertebrates), and ichthyology (the study of fish) are examples of different subfields within marine biology.

Career options for marine biologists also center around picking a certain subfield in which to specialize. Some subfields relate to the study of physical effects to an adaptation of an environment that’s salty, the ocean in general, and the consequences of ever-changing, different oceanic properties on marine life. Marine biologists are dedicated to studying and preserving marine life while also educating people about it. One important misconception about marine biologists is people think they handle animals when in fact they do not. Zoologists more commonly interact with animals instead.

Getting an Education in Marine Biology

Getting an education in marine biology requires attending a college or a university that provides a range of degrees in the science. These can range from either an associate’s degree all the way up to a doctorate degree. There is an extremely large number of options to choose from when deciding on your educational course in marine biology, since there is a lot to learn about life in the ocean. The science itself is usually a pursuit of graduate students, so you should first earn an undergraduate degree in a broader, scientific field of study like biology. If this is the course chosen, it is much desired to get an undergraduate degree at a college or university that also then offers graduate-level marine biology studies. If the college or university does not offer graduate-level marine biology courses, there is always the choice of taking weekend or summer courses at nearby institutions or even marine laboratories. At the conclusion of the studying process, newly graduated marine biologists may start their careers off in either a private or a government laboratory, where they perform research.

Additional Resources/Information

Marine biology is a vast field that envelops many different subfields and disciplines. Accordingly, there are a lot of resources on the Internet that cover many topics related to marine biology. People who already work in the field of marine biology may be interested in the constant stream of news that emerges daily in the field of marine biology. Those who are new to the science of marine biology and are therefore interested in being able to learn more about it will be interested in basic primers and introductions to the subject. For those who only have a passing interest or a general interest in the science of marine biology, the Internet is a great resource on the subject. There are a great many websites devoted to informing the public about marine biology.

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