Subject: Marine Biology Questions

Robert Kenney (
Wed, 16 Dec 1998 18:31:10 -0500

At 08:15 12/15/98 -0500, you wrote:
>I am doing a research paper for english. I would like to ask some
>questions on Marine Biology:

This sounds more like a research paper for science class than for English
class.  I thought for English class you were supposed to be doing all the
writing, not me!  (And I bet your teacher would take off points for not
capitalizing "English.")  I'm not even going to try to answer some of your
questions - a good answer would be way too long and a smart-aleck answer
would not be much help to you.  Hit the library and look for a really basic
marine biology book, and you'll find more of the kind of information that
you're looking for.

>	1. What is marine biology?

BIOLOGY is literally the study of life if you translate from its Greek roots
- the science that includes any and all aspects of understanding living
organisms.  MARINE biology is the study of living organisms which live all
or part of their lives in salt water.

>	2. Why is marine biology important?

The short answer is because three-quarters of the Earth is covered by ocean.
The long answer is probably chapter 1 or chapter 2 of that marine biology book.

>	3. What does marine biology associate with?

I'm not sure I even understand this question.

>	4. How does marine biology relate to marine life?

See question 1.

>	5. What do marine biologists do?

"Everything" is probably exaggerating, but not by very much.  Some might
study the way an entire ocean ecosystem works together, some might study
only one species.  Some might study only the behavior of one species.  Some
might study only the way the cells function inside the kidneys of one family
of fishes.  There are people who study marine plants, or marine bacteria, or
only the chemicals produced by marine plants and marine bacteria.  You could
find a real specialist who only studies the bacteria inside the stomachs of
the parasites attached to the gills of the fish who only live in the
intestines of a sea cucumber.  If something is alive and it lives in the
ocean, then you could call a scientist studying that a marine biologist.

>	6. What interesting facts can I learn about marine biology?

All of them (that was the smart-aleck answer).  What are you interested in?
Whales?  Dolphins?  Sea Turtles?  Sharks?  Giant clams?  Not-so-giant clams?
Coral reefs?  Kelp forests?  Sea urchins?  Fish (there are over 10,000
species of marine fishes)?  Red tides?  Lobsters?  Type any one of those
topics into a Web search engine and you'll get more information than you can
read if you worked non-stop for the rest of the year.

>	7. How can I explore the marine biology field?

See question 6.  Read a lot of books.  Go to an aquarium (you didn't say
where you lived, so maybe you can't do that part).

>	8. How can marine biology help the environment?

Just like any other aspect of science - we can't protect any environment if
we don't understand it well enough.

>	9. How can we make the general public more aware of it?

Go to college and become a teacher.  Or become a TV producer and make more
nature programs about the marine environment.

>	10. What are all of the aspects of marine biology?

Now you have to read all of the marine biology books in the library, not
just one.

>	11. Does oceanography relate to marine biology? In what ways?

Oceanography is the study of the ocean, and only part of oceanography is
biology.  Oceanography also includes physics, chemistry, and geology.  Then
we can start combining sciences - biochemistry, biophysics, geochemistry,
geophysics, biogeochemistry, .....

>	12. What different animals do marine biologists study?

I study whales, dolphins, sharks, fish, and sea turtles.  All the species of
those combined would be only a tiny proportion of the different kinds of
marine animals.  And marine biologists don't just study animals - they also
study plants, protists (one-celled organisms that aren't plants or animals),
and bacteria.

>	13. What problems stump marine biologists?

Hard questions from high-school students doing English projects.  There are
so many questions that we still don't have the answers to that they would
fill an encyclopedia.  Most of my research is on North Atlantic right
whales.  Here are a few of our questions:
Where do most of them go in the winter?
How do they pick out the best places for feeding?
What can we do to prevent them from getting killed by being run over by
ships or drowned in fishing gear?
How do they find their way across 1,000 miles of ocean?

>	14. Where is marine biology studied? Can it be studied anywhere?

For obvious reasons, most schools with marine biology programs are near the
ocean.  You can teach the courses anywhere, but it works better where
students can work in the marine environments themselves.  I teach a summer
course on an island in Maine - and I think that works so much better than a
classroom in Rhode Island (or in Kansas).

>	15.  What does it take to become a marine biologist?

Study!  A lot!  I spent eleven years in college.

Dr. Bob

 | Robert D. Kenney, Ph.D.              |
 | University of Rhode Island                                        |
 | Graduate School of Oceanography                                   |
 | Bay Campus - Box 41                          TEL:  (401) 874-6664 |
 | Narragansett, RI 02882-1197, U.S.A.          FAX:  (401) 874-6497 |