For those of you who share an uncommon curiosity and love for what lies under the world’s vast expanse of oceans, this might just be the career to consider. Speaking to Dr. C. K .Haridevi, a scientist at the National Institute of Oceanography (CSIR),Regional Centre, Mumbai, Naressa Coutinho finds out about the study of marine biology and its importance in this day and age where we are constantly faced with the challenges of protecting our environment both on land and at sea
What is Marine Biology and what are its different areas of study?
Marine biology is the study of marine ecosystems, which can range from micro/meso/macroscopic plant and animal life in marine environments. They may focus on photosynthesis of underwater plant life, food web dynamics, migration patterns of marine mammals, or methods to promote coral reef protection.
Some of the scientific areas a marine biologist may study include marine ecology, aquaculture, marine mammals, and the chemical and physical properties of oceans, estuaries or wetlands. These biologists often work to determine the impact of human activity on various ecosystems. Marine biologists who specialize in fisheries or aquaculture may work to protect biodiversity, studying the effects of over-fishing or cultivating certain species for fish farms. Marine biologists may also study the health of coastal ecosystems by assessing the impact of pollution or environmental and man-made disasters. Other specializations include studying fish species or the behavior and habitats of marine mammals, such as whales, dolphins, or sea lions. Marine biologist can make recommendations on management systems and planning for wildlife populations and habitat, consulting with stakeholders and the public at large to explore options.
Tells us a little about your journey as a Marine Biologist.
Taking up a job as Marine Biologists is the ability to contribute to the preservation of life in the oceans. For the past 12 years I have been in this field, beginning as a student and was molded into a scientist in the field of Marine Biology. In these years, I have worked in estuaries, seas and also went to the deep seas and crossed 58 S latitude (Antarctic Ocean-The Indian Sector of Southern Ocean).
What is the scope for growth in this field?
There is a great scope in this field. Marine biologists may find employment with government agencies, research universities, aquariums, and consulting agencies. Scientists, teachers, aqua-culturist, climatologist etc are some of the top priority jobs in this field.
Oceanography centres, laboratories, aquariums, research boats and vessels are some of the possibilities for field workplaces. Laboratory work could involve working directly with the pollution control board, or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), or on behalf of a university's research program. Nonprofit organizations are also a major employer for marine biology graduates since they fund studies and research projects for commercial products. Drug companies conduct marine research as well, as marine life is often at the cutting edge of research.
How does one become a Marine Biologist?
A Marine Biologist must have a minimum of a Master's degree in a biological or marine science; degree programs may be focused on marine biology, marine science, oceanography, zoology or fisheries technology. PhD degree programs in marine biology are also available, and they may even offer specializations, like molecular biology, aquaculture genetics marine psychology, marine mammalogy, marine pollution, atoll ecosystems and coral reef ecology or chemical ecology. These programs include research requirements, and programs often have several institutes and centers that provide research facilities. A thesis and a dissertation are required for graduation for master's and doctoral degree programs, respectively.
How much can one look to earn from a career in Marine Biology?
In India, a Marine Biologist can have monthly earnings in the start of their carrier at Rs. 35,000 and to the most senior level at Rs.3 Lakhs. Marine Scientists working in the USA for example may earn an annual median salary of $57,430.
What are the challenges that you face in this field?
Studying marine life means spending a great deal of time at sea. Aboard the ship, you face the risk of natural forces of the ocean such as hurricanes and rogue seas. However, with proper planning and training, risks can be minimized if not eliminated.
What would you say are the benefits of a career in Marine Biology?
Being a marine biologist, one can enjoy a close proximity to the ocean and get to know about different environments from Tropical to Polar Regions. One can travel in submarines and explore the ocean floor. Because marine biologists focus on life in aquatic environment, they must travel to the coast or overseas to study the natural habitats of flora and fauna.
Lastly, what would you like to say to all our aspiring Marine Biologists out there?
Marine biologists, sometimes called oceanographers, study the aquatic life of microbes, plants and animals. If you love science, and researching life, then consider a career as a marine biologist. The benefits are never ending in this special field. The only requirement being, a passion towards the world of ocean and a heart and soul to work and understand the phenomenon or processes of the deep blue.
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