Marine biology is the scientific study of organisms that live in saltwater or brackish bodies of water. Marine biologists study microscopic sea life, invertebrates, fish, sea birds and sea mammals, as well as reptiles, plants and algae. Marine biology is a vast area of study, and many scientists specialize in the study of a particular marine species, organism, behavior or ecosystem. Marine conservation biology focuses on providing scientific solutions to deteriorating marine environments.
Marine biology focuses on the characteristics of marine organisms, and it also examines their behavior and interactions with the environment. Some microscopic species that marine biologists study include phytoplankton and zooplankton, and molecular biology is an area of specialization in marine biology. Some additional specialties are ichthyology, or the study of fish, and cetology, which is the study of whales.
Some different types of marine environments that are of interest to the discipline include tidal pools, coral reefs, kelp forests, thermal vents and open ocean. Marine biologists use special tools and techniques for sampling and tracking marine life, including bottom trawls, plankton nets, satellite tags and sonar. Marine biologists work for universities, private research laboratories, local governments, aquariums and museums, as well as consulting firms and nonprofit organizations.
A bachelor's degree and additional graduate work are usually required to pursue a career in marine biology. Some important preparatory courses include biology, zoology, chemistry, biometrics and statistics.