Career Profile: Marine Biologist
Every year, humpback whales travel 4000 kilometres from the ocean around Alaska and British Columbia to the water near Hawaii. Soon afterwards, they turn around and make the return journey. Throughout the entire journey, they eat little or nothing until they return to their northern feeding grounds. While they swim, they make musical sounds that sound like singing. Sometimes, humpback whales can stay underwater for half an hour or more without breathing. When they swim near the surface, they often throw themselves out of the water and then crash back into the depths.
Do facts like these or about other ocean animals interest you? If so, you might want to consider becoming a marine biologist. These scientists work to understand the fish, birds, and other animals that live in the world’s water, especially saltwater animals like whales or crabs.
If you choose to become a marine biologist, you will need to take as many science courses as you can in high school and university. These courses could be in chemistry, biology, conservation, or oceanography (the study of oceans). Later on, you can to choose a specialty like the life cycle of crabs or the effects of pollution on sea turtles. Your work might end up being much very general, but having a specialty will help you find work. Volunteering at an aquarium or pet shop now might help you choose a field.
Most marine biologists have at least a Bachelor’s degree, and many have Master’s or PhD degrees as well. If you prefer not to study for such a long time, you can decide to get a technical certificate instead and then work mainly with the daily care of animals instead of conducting studies and writing academic papers. As a biologist, you might collect and analyze samples of various animals. As a technician, you might clean fish tanks or feed the animals. Depending on what you do, you might make anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000 as you work to help people understand the world in which they live.
Besides helping people understand the world, marine biologists help alert others to problems in the natural world. As they watch the animals in the world’s oceans and seas, for example, they can tell how water and soil quality affects these animals and humans. They see the connections between people’s health and the world around them.
Do you love to explore streams and lakes to find out what lives in them? Do you have an interest in preserving the natural world? Maybe a career as a marine biologist is right for you.