There are various Oceans and Freshwater careers and the different jobs may include; conducting surveys, monitoring habitats and populations, rehabilitation of sick or injured marine life and the protection and rescue of animals from natural and man-made disasters.
Having relevant training as part of the marine animal courses is important.
If you haven't spent time working in a marine environment, it is worth gaining some hands-on experience as this is useful for your CV and will also give you a valuable insight into what this sort of work involves.
Animal Jobs Direct offers practical training as part of our Marine Animal Rescue Diploma course.
Marine Animal Careers include: Marine and freshwater Biologists, Marine Animal Rescue Officer, Aquarist, Herpetologists, Aquarium Curator, Marine Veterinary Surgeon.
Marine Biologists work mainly with sea plants and animals. Freshwater Biologists work on rivers or lakes or for environmental agencies researching issues such as pollution concerns and depleted fish stocks resulting from over fishing. Marine Biologists may spend much time working on ships or boats after which they are required to analyse their findings and write reports.
The work involves understanding how marine organisms function, how they relate to the environment and to other creatures. Our understanding of creatures such as plankton, algae, fish larvae and shrimps, etc enables us to measure a variety of things including the impact of global warming, pollution, over-fishing and damage through tourism.
Marine Animal Rescue Officers work to rescue and rehabilitate stranded, sick or injured marine animals. This work is particularly important during natural or man made disasters and many charities require extra hands-on help at these times. The Marine Animal Rescue Diploma course is a 6 module marine animal course specifically designed for working or volunteering in marine animal rescue.
The abyssal areas of the sea represent over 90% of the benthos as a whole. Some 80% of the ocean lies at depths of over 3,000 m, yet we have scarcely begun to explore it. We know more about the moon than we do about the deep oceans on our own planet. Even in Monterey Bay, the best studied sea floor in the world, over 98% of the benthos has never been seen by humans. On almost every dive in a deep sea submersible, marine biologists are finding species that are new to science. It is an exiting time for researchers involved in deep sea biology.
In the dark and inaccessible regions of the deep sea, the vast tracts of abyssal plain might seem devoid of life but they are in fact remarkably diverse areas of the ocean. Animals living in the deep sea endure incredible pressures, extreme cold and live in constant darkness. Food is a limited resource and yet the deep sea has many advantages including low currents, continual dark, temperature and salinity, which are steady and constant in contrast to the turbulence of the surface waters. Animals produce their own light, bioluminescence, to signal to other animals and to lure prey within easy reach.
Humans have long been fascinated with the sea and yet, even with modern technology, we have barely begun to explore the vast areas of the deep sea. So far only 10 km2 of the deep sea floor has been explored. Humans using ordinary SCUBA gear are able to dive to about 30 m and this is generally adequate for studying coral reefs and the upper layers of the photic zone. Deeper diving is possible using a commercial atmospheric underwater diving suit called JIM after its inventor. JIM is a carbon fibre reinforced plastic and aluminium suit with tight pressure seals and articulated joints. The diver is always at atmospheric pressure within the suit, which relieves the need for decompression during surfacing (as is required of SCUBA divers). Some also have thrusters to allow movement in the water. JIMs are theoretically capable of taking a diver to 450m.
In 1964, the first successful scientific deep sea manned submersible, called Alvin, owned and operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, was the first deep sea submersible capable of carrying passengers. Alvin could dive to depths of about 3 km and later updated versions to about 4 km. Alvin was the first manned submersible to explore hydrothermal vents in the 1970s and has since discovered 24 new vents in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Now Alvin along with other submersibles are able to reach depths of 6 km. Even so, submersibles have only explored a few hundred metres of the mid ocean ridges where hydrothermal vents are found. Mid ocean ridges stretch for over 45,000 km throughout the major oceans of the world except the North Pacific. They are the largest geological structures on Earth, some 3,000 m high and 50 km wide. We have a lot yet to discover about these remarkable places.
Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) are able to explore deeper than manned submersibles and when an inspection of the Titanic was carried out at a depth of 4 km, Alvin was used as a manned submersible but took with it an ROV called Jason which remained linked to Alvin by an umbilical cord but was able to probe into the Titanic without risking the safety of the human divers. The Johnson Sea Link, owned and operated by Harbour Branch Oceanographic Institution, found pieces of the Space Shuttle Challenger after it crashed into the sea. It was possible for investigators to discover the cause of the disaster after the Johnson Sea Link found the rocket booster with a faulty seal.
Cutting edge scientific investigation to the deep sea using manned submersibles and ROVs is being carried out by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Harbour Branch Oceanographic Institution and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the US. Manned submersibles, such as the Johnson Sea Link, which carry two or three people and a pilot, are able to reach 1,000 m with just a few ROVs worldwide able to dive even deeper at around 3,000 m. However, even with the incredible achievements and discoveries in the deep sea in recent years, the very deepest part of the ocean, the Marianas Trench, still remains inaccessible at over 11,000m.
The continental shelf constitutes just 8% of the world ocean, yet this is where the majority of the fauna and flora of the benthos live. The average depth is just 200 m and lies within the photic zone, the most productive area of the sea. Sea levels vary and continental shelves change over time with submerged beaches, cliffs, river valleys and the prograding deltas. Submarine processes such as wave action and currents continuously rework sedimentary deposits and so the continental margins are a dynamic and ever changing region of the sea.
The continental shelves we see today are the result of continental terraces formed when sea levels were lower during glaciations 15-20,000 years ago. The average slope of the continental shelf varies between 3-200 depending on whether the margin is passive or active. Atlantic type passive margins are deep with a gradual slope caused by continental rifting, whilst Pacific type active margins are steep and occur at destructive plate boundaries, marked by volcanic activity and earthquakes.
Erosion of rock from the continents constantly builds continental shelves seaward by the deposition of sediments carried in rivers from the land or from submarine canyons in the continental shelf and slope. These are called submarine fans and occur on all types of continental slope. Submarine fans are enormous and are measured in tens of kilometres. One submarine fan that lies seaward of the Ganges River, the Ganges Fan, is 2,500 km out to sea and up to 5,000 m deep.
There are primarily two origins for sediments found on the sea floor,
terragenous and bioclastic with a small contribution from volcanic
activity. Terragenous sediments originate from the erosion of
continental rock. Bioclastic sediments are the result of biological
activity and include the dead remains of pelagic plants and animals
that have sunk to the sea floor. These types of sediment can also be
classified as pelagic or deep sea sediments.
Terragenous sediments are sorted by currents with the large particles
deposited inshore over the continental shelves and the fine particles
carried in suspension to offshore area. In warm wet latitudes,
chemical weathering of rock predominates whilst in cold, high
latitudes, physical weathering produces the bulk of the sediment
which is carried out to sea.
Currents move sediments off the edge of the continental shelf and onto the continental slope and rise and into the ocean basin. Fine particles stay in suspension whilst the coarser material collects and occasionally shifts in what are known as turbidity currents. These are vast heaps of sediment and water that slump down into submarine canyons. One famous turbidity current occurred in 1929 and was started by an earthquake in the Grand Banks east of North America. The turbidity current was so powerful that submarine cables were broken and sediment was carried for 300 miles travelling at speeds estimated at 55 knots.
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