Subject: Questions about a career in marine biology

Lindsay J Porter (
Sun, 5 Apr 1998 19:54:33 +0800 (HKT)

>Lindsay Porter,
>I am a High School student in the United States who is intrested in
>becoming a marine biologist.  However I live in a part of the country where
>actual experience with marine biology is very limited.  I would like to
>know, what it is like to be a marine biologist?  How hard is it to find a
>job?  Also any helpful information which you can think of which will help
>me in my pursuit of seeing if "marine biology" is the career that I would
>like to pursue.
>			Thank You,
>				Bonnie Britton
Dear Bonnie,
I actually wonder if I am a proper marine biologist sometimes! Although my
first degree covered many aspects of fresh and marine water biology and
ecology, I have actually only had 'real' experience in marine mammal
research.  A lot of my friends, however, are   biologists who cover a wide
variety of marine topics - and collectively, not one of us would have a
diffeent career!  The ability to work in a field that you enjoy is
relatively rare!  Working outdoors/on the shore/ on boats and diving is
tremendously good fun although for every hour in the field there is about
five times as much time spent preparing the work and analysing the data
thereafter!  It is difficult to get a job in the Marine mammal field
(largely due to competeion and lack of funding) although other aspects of
marine biology studies can easily be applied to industry, management and
conservation - areas in which there is a growing demand for  expertise.

 If at all possible, try and participate in volunteer or holiday research to
get a taste of the work involved... some helpful contacts I post below.

'Strategies for Pursuing a Career in Marine Mammal Science', 
Society for Marine Mammalogy's website:

>There are two types of voluntary work you could apply for - one where you
>pay nothing (a true volunteer) or one where you actually pay to join a
>research programme (as a type of adventure holiday).  I shall include some
>places which may take on volunteers and email addresses for those that are
>paying holidays.  These 'paying' volunteer projects also have various
>overseas expeditions.  
>Paying Research
>Earthwatch The website has lots of information on all projects, I have
>listed the sites specific to marine mammals
>680 Mt. Auburn St., 
>P.O. Box 403, 
>Massachusetts 02272; 
>   MANATEES Florida
>   ORCAS Washington
>This is a very good programme. I know several people who have taken part and
>all comments have been very positive and enthusiatic (to contact this
>laboratory direct: Dr. Randy Wells
>Chicago Zoological Society, c/o Mote Marine Laboratory, 1600 Thompson
>Parkway, Sarasota, FL. 34236) 
>Whalewatching website.  This site has a lot of information on all aspects of
>whale watching, research, education and related groups.  
>Oceanography www site list  This site lists many institutes that conduct
>research and includes those that require volunteers
>Prof. G.A.J. Worthy 
>Director, Physiological Ecology and Bioenergetics Lab
>Director, Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network
>This is one of the largest and most successful Marine Mammal stranding
>programmes.  Volunteers are always require although I believe that all
>summer interns are either University or college level.
>Texas A&M University,
>5001 Avenue U, Suite 105
>Galveston, TX   77551  USA
>(409) 740-4905 fax
>Centre for Coastal Studies
>All year round whale and dolphin cruises and research, which take summer
>interns of all ages
>The Center for Coastal Studies
>Box 1036,
>Provincetown, MA 02657
>(508) 487-3622
>Wallacea.  Indonesian rainforest and coastal area survey project (no
>specific dolphin work other than finding and identifying species in certain
>Operation Wallacea 
>C/- Ecosurveys
>Priory Lodge
>Lincolnshire PE23 4BP
Additionlly, there is the Green Guide - website listing projects which need
volunteers - found on

I don't suppose though you will know if marine biology is your thing!
Enrolling in a college or university course and participating in fieldwork
and practical classes will cerainly help you decide - and at that stage it
would not be too late to change direction or career choice. 

I certainly can't imagine having any other career which I would enjoy more 
with all best wishes for what ever you do

Lindsay J Porter
Dolphin Research Group
The Swire Institute of Marine Science
The University of Hong Kong
Cape d'Aguilar
Hong Kong