If you’ve considered the benefits of a Marine Biology career and are wondering whether this is the right career path for you, you might have asked yourself if there really is a future for the Marine Biology and Oceanography industry. There are now hundreds, even thousands of research centers & institutes that hire highly-trained and experienced Marine Biologists and Ocean Scientists/Engineers. The industry continues to thrive and decades of research and studying have helped to develop marine resources around the world, solve problems affecting our world’s ocean & fish populations and conserve many different types of marine species. Creating a sustainable future is a high priority for many research institutions and scientific projects and students at marine biological science colleges/universities are often trained to perform a wide range of research studies to determine what types of environments will sustain different marine cultures and animals.
The future for Marine Biologists and Ocean Scientists/Engineers looks promising as research centers, universities and other organizations look for experienced scientists in this field to coordinate various projects and conduct specialized experiments. Examples of projects that will continue to be a top priority for many organizations include:
Reversing global warming by reducing carbon emissions
Working on projects that involve the use of carbon sequestering
Reducing over-fishing by using sustainable fishing methods
Working with food manufacturers and companies to make sustainable seafood choices
Protecting biodiversity using tools such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility
Protecting marine habitats by establishing large marine-protected areas around the world
Protecting endangered species and reducing threats to certain species that are deemed to be at-risk populations
Putting an end to ocean dumping that endangers plants and marine life
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of biological scientists – which includes the field of Marine Biology and Oceanography – is expected to increase much faster than the average for all occupations. Competition is expected to be stronger for basic research positions and those who specialize in the research and development fields will continue to enjoy attractive job opportunities. As scientists & industry professionals discover new and improved ways to clean up and preserve the environment, even more job opportunities will arise. The Federal Government and some state and local agencies will continue to be a source of funding for many conservation and environmental projects that affect Marine Biologists and Ocean Scientists/Engineers. Those individuals with advanced degrees (Master’s or Ph.D.), are likely to find more attractive career opportunities in this field and also enjoy higher salaries and wages throughout their careers. Some may choose to branch out into similar fields or complementary career paths, such as conservation science, forestry, engineering, natural science or even teaching. What’s most important for all Marine Biologists and Ocean Scientists/Engineers is to continue their studies and receive appropriate training to work with new computer and software programs that impact this industry. As the industry continues to evolve, marine biological science colleges and scientists need to learn new, relevant skills and make a commitment to further their education.
We hope to see a healthy ocean free of pollution and teeming with life. Clean beaches and magnificently colored coral reefs crowded with a multitude of fish, octopuses, squid and sharks. Ocean waters free of excess carbon dioxide which allows for normal acidity levels so that clams and snails can build their shells and corals can continue to grow. An ocean filled with a sustainable number of schools of tuna, cod, groupers, snappers, mackerels… pods of whales and dolphins free of the threat of harpoons, nets, pollution…. Our future oceans have few dead zones with waters restored to their healthy oxygen-rich state… in balance once again. Mangroves and estuaries restored providing the much needed marine life nurseries with Manatees and Dugongs… beaches filled with the nests of Sea Turtles and coastlines crowded with hatchlings as they find their way back to the sea each year.
Only the application of sound science and aggressive conservation will ensure that this is truly what the future holds. To ensure a sustainable future for the oceans we will require an increased understanding of the world’s oceans and its marine life & an effective cultivation of a global sea ethic. The future prospects of Marine Biologists and Ocean Scientists/Engineers are subject to the same sorts of things that affect the prospects in any profession: the need for people in that profession, the number of people going into the profession, the state of the economy, etc. Another important factor to consider is how much money the government is interested in spending on research, because a lot of the jobs and funding for Marine Biologists and Ocean Scientists/Engineers come from the government.
What the demand for Marine Biologists and Ocean Scientists/Engineers will be in the future is difficult to predict. However, there are a number of factors suggesting that the demand for at least some types of Marine Biologists and Ocean Scientists/Engineers will be high. The oceans cover about 70% of the earth. Historically, people have used the ocean for transportation and to get food. Because for thousands of years people have not had the technology to safely venture far into the world’s oceans, its vast reaches were mostly limited to explorers and a few intrepid trading cultures. Activities such as fishing, however, were strictly limited to a very narrow band along coasts. The rest of the oceans was left alone practically untouched.
In the last century our use of the world’s oceans has increased dramatically. Early in the century mechanized trans-oceanic transportation became commonplace and ocean-wide pollution became a very real issue. This pollution can range from dumping of materials overboard to the oils and paints that come off of the ships. With mechanization also came the ability to fish far from land, resulting in the depletion of fish not just along shores but across the entire ocean. Some countries are beginning to use oceans for drinking water, constructing large desalinization plants to remove the salt from the seawater.
People are also drilling under various oceans to remove oil. All of this activity has led to a new problem, which affects many animals such as whales: underwater noise pollution. Along the coasts, the vast increase in human population has led to many crises as the ocean resources people have relied on for centuries have now disappeared or been ruined. This rapid increase in global ocean use has taught us that the world’s oceans are not an endless supply of fish, nor is it an environment so large that we cannot alter it. In addition to a source of resources, we have also now begun to understand that the oceans are an incredibly important factor in sustaining life. For example, much of the oxygen we breathe comes from plants in the ocean and the ocean is important in maintaining climate.
Because the oceans are so important and because there are so many challenges facing us in the future regarding how we can use the world’s oceans, it is likely that there will be a need for Marine Biologists and Ocean Scientists/Engineers to examine how life in an ocean functions in the future. There will be a need for people to study how our activities have impacted the world’s oceans and how we can correct problems and use the oceans more safely especially along coastal regions worldwide.