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Until now, the first thing that comes to mind when presented with the word marine biology might include something along the lines of saving dolphins and whales at a local Sea World. However, it is so much more than that -- marine biology is looking at a whole other ecosystem--a world even--than our own and learning more about the mysteries hiding behind murky waters. The marine biologists who dedicate their lives to this are not only doing their jobs but removing the boundary of the huge wall the water creates. You're at the edge of your seat now; wanting to open up this world too. But before you jump up and "dive in", it is best to know what you're getting into by looking at details such as job descriptions, requirements, education, salaries, innovations, and education.
The bodies of water that inhabit the Earth are of huge proportions, and along with this, the study of marine ecosystems through marine biology is as vast as the waters are. While we skim the surface through the media--reading stories about saving whales off shore, going on exciting adventures, or goofing around with Shamoo--these will never give marine biology the credit it truly deserves.
As a marine biologist, you may not live on the sea like you expect to. Marine biologists can be found teaching as professors to build up the future generations of marine biologists in universities or spend their days in a laboratory discovering the latest micro-organism. Of course there are also the kind of marine biologists that walk the shores and swim with their subjects. Who work at marine wildlife reserves and their job is to aid subjects that are injured by various causes. Many marine biologists also find ways to improve conditions so organisms have higher chance to live (Anonymous 2010, 1). Marine biologists are brought together by their motives; what keeps them doing what they do. Some of these include finding methods to preserve marine life and its surroundings and promoting use of the sea's natural systems (Saladin 2011, 1). The flexibility and variation that marine biology offers tends to reel in the
interests of many different people who might aspire to one day become
Preparation for becoming a marine biologist can start at any given time. A trip to the beach as a child; digging around in the sand and tide pools, or peering under rocks in the soupy mud found near the lake are both a great start to get acquainted with marine life (Anonymous 2010 3). As for high school, students are advised to take advanced maths including statistics, polish their writing skills, and take advanced physics along with other sciences. Marine biologist Jeffery Levinton describes high school as "the time to get a firm education." Although, if high schools offer a marine biology course, it is suggested to take advantage of the opportunity (Levinton 2003, 12, 16). Also, it is highly suggested to take up field work or an internship with
other marine biologists toward the end of their college career
(Anonymous 2011A, 1). Education is key in getting a good job in marine biology and the more a person is acquainted with related subjects, the better the chances are of being successful (Wood 2007, 2).
The ability to work well with others is a very important trait to have as a marine biologist. Jobs usually require team work and meeting new people in which you will collaborate with often (Anonymous B 1, 2). Half the assignments given would be impossible due to the fact that marine biology depends upon people who specialize in certain departments to collaborate and create smooth research and experimentation process (Levinton 2003, 17). If you get along with everyone on your team, you are more than likely to favored amongst your partners and supervisors which can benefit you in the long-run.
As said previously, education is key to being a successful marine biologist. Of course, that means picking a well-rounded college. The main traits to look for when choosing a college are specialization in science and strong writing education. Even better if in addition, the college has a marine biology department or faculty whom are marine biologists to enable you to work in the labs (Anonymous 2010, 5).
Boston University offers all listed, making it the ideal example of a great college for aspiring marine biologists. Located in Massachusetts, Boston University, BU for short, offers a phenomenal Boston University Marine
Program (BUMP) that integrates science and hands on learning to create the ideal experience for students wanting to become marine biologists. BUMP even offers coursework that prepares their students for their futures of work (Anonymous 2011D, 1). In addition to this program, Boston University offers a great math department that includes statistics and other important maths marine biologists need for success. This is all available for a tuition estimated at $40,848 (Anonymous 2011C, 1).
In terms of annual income, salaries vary depending on the field in which a marine biologist resides. In the educator part of marine biology, beginning assistant professors can estimate a salary ranging from $45,000 to $65,000 in an academic year. On the other hand, full-time professors working under a private university earn about $65,000 to $100,000 in an academic year (Levinton 2003, 3). Other jobs average around $80,000 to $100,000 on the high side, granted you have experience and education (Hill 2009, 5).
The bodies of water that cover our Earth together create a great expanse. People are nowhere near to understanding the depths of those waters, and because of this, marine biology is becoming recognized as a work field growing in importance (Hill 2009, 4). The diversity of marine biology makes it needed in many different work environments. Education will always be needed, enabling almost a guaranteed need for marine biologist in faculty. There is also a growing interest in maintaining Earth's marine ecosystems as various environmental awareness rises.
The current forefront of marine biology in terms of innovations is mainly geared on maintaining and preventing pollution amongst marine ecosystems, as said before. Marine biologists are trying to focus less on certain endangered species and more on ecosystems and how they affect every living thing involved. They feel that they would receive more results if they tried this technique (Weiner et. al 2011, 1).
A recent finding has concluded that the heightened consumption of plastics in our industrial world is affecting the health of marine ecosystems and becoming a serious problem. It is not only visibly found on the beaches, but also hiding in the form of micro-particles in the sand. And because of these factors, fish, filter-feeders, plankton and other organisms are found with plastic in their systems. Despite the efforts of beach cleanups, things still continue to get worse. More than half the trash picked up replenishes soon after and marine biologists still conclude that organisms are affected (Moore 2008, 1, 2, 3, 4). Marine biologists concerned with this matter everywhere partner up with other scientists to find a solution to this problem and many more relating with pollution and marine ecosystems.
Overall, marine biology takes a lot of dedication and hard work amongst its followers. At times the path to becoming a marine biologist is challenging and expensive, and once out there in the field the work might occasionally seem even more grueling. Yet marine biologists push past and persevere with their love of the science and of discovering new paths filled with opportunities and innovations. They help save an ecosystem from the brink of destruction, and maintain the Earth's greatest natural beauty and pride; the waters which inhabit it.
Like any job, there are advantages and disadvantages that come to mind when thinking of marine biology as a possible career. The only factors that I think might create a problem with me is the fact that you
must be very outgoing and volunteer to step up willingly. I
am a very shy person who hasn't found a voice for myself yet, so
speaking up on projects I may have to do with others might be a problem
for me. Besides that though, all I see are positives. Marine biology can sometimes require a lot of traveling. I am a huge fan of traveling anywhere and everywhere, and marine biology would allow me to do that. If I am in the right field of marine biology, I may be able to travel to the great oceans of the Earth in order to do research. I may even be able to go to Japan; a dream destination of mine, to study its' organisms. Another pro is the fact of dealing with marine organisms themselves. I love wildlife and organisms; almost anything that moves. Marine biology will allow me to learn more about those organisms I like and more, so it definitely would be a subject of interest.