Marine Science is a very broad field. Check out the following links to find out more about becoming a marine scientist or a marine biologist!

Interviews with Marine Scientists - questions about schooling, salaries and skills!
Answers to OceanLink questions on Careers in Marine Biology
Profiles of Marine Scientists
A question about the role of a marine biologist in society
A first hand account from a marine biology student
Career Links: Links to Canadian and American Universities

Contributions of marine biology to society

Q: What contributions does marine biology make to society?

A: Marine biology contributes to human society in many ways. Humans are completely dependant on resources from natural ecosystems.. all food, water, building and other materials, and medicines come from natural ecosystems around us. Many of these resources are found directly in the ocean (food, chemicals from plants and animals for medicine and other products, oxygen and other nutrients). In fact 70% of the protein that humans consume is from the sea. Not only this, but the ocean and all of its organisms are a vital component to the rest of the earth's biosphere. The ocean covers 70% of the earth, and the many processes that go on within it are connected to the non-marine ecosystems that we depend on.

There is a lot that is not understood about marine life and ecosystems, and yet society relies on what we do know all the time to make decisions about ocean dumping, pollution, fishing, aquaculture and recreation. A deeper, science-based understanding of ocean organisms and ecosystems is what marine biology has to contribute to society.

You can imagine that communication is very important in this process. What scientists discover needs to be communicated to the rest of society... Decisions about fishing practices, dumping practices, and aquaculture are made by the government, which is meant to be a reflection of society. It is important that people in society are aware of what marine biologists are finding out. So communication of a science-based understanding of ocean organisms and ecosystems is very important to the role of marine bioloists in society.

A first hand account from a marine biology student

Amy's Story - This was written at our request by a student who had e-mailed us with some questions. She has some great insights for any young person who is considering a career as a marine biologist!

Yes, I would be glad to write a short piece on the misconceptions I had regarding marine biology, etc., etc...
I guess I should begin by explaining a little about how I became interested in marine biology:
I grew up in the high desert, but I have been going to the beach (San Onofre, if you've heard of it) since I was a little girl. I can remember spending hours searching through tidepools and sticking my fingers in sea anemones. This was all very fascinating to me (and still is). Seeing the porpoise swim by every summer and taking trips to Sea World to see large marine mammals in captivity were things I always looked forward to. So by my freshman year in high school I had decided that I wanted to be a marine biologist.

The first thing I learned from my "Field Experience in Marine Biology" course which I took the summer after my junior year, was that saying you are a marine biologist really says nothing at all. I had no idea that are were so many sub-fields. Yet probably the biggest misconception I had that I think is typical of most young people is that I thought marine biologists got to spend each and every day on boats playing with whales and dolphins. After my course, I realized that the ocean revolves around a microscopic world-- this world, perhaps, is what a majority of "marine biologists" dedicate their lives to. I learned that very few people actually get to do the field research that I thought was so common among biologists, and I also realized that it is extremely difficult to get grants and such to conduct this research.

After my summer school, which I should stress was a very basic, broad overview of invertebrates and marine biology in general, I decided that I had no desire to spend my life looking into a microscope at infinitesimal zooplankton. If I couldn't play with the whales and dolphins, well then, I guess marine biology was not the field for me. However, now I am aware that there may be a happy medium. This is why I have such a strong desire to get involved with research! I still love the ocean and the animals that live in and around it. I guess you could say that I've found my "second wind", and now I am ready to be more open-minded and give marine biology a second chance. I would really like to do research involving marine animals to see if they have any characteristics that may lead to future discoveries in combating human diseases.

I think that marine biology is an up-and-coming field. As important and incredible such things as space exploration are, I truly believe that we should devote more of our time to learning about what lies on our own planet. There is still so much more knowledge to be gained from the ocean and its contents--who knows what possibilities lie ahead!

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