What Does An Aquatic Biologist Do?
Aquatic biology is a type of biology that focuses on the study of all of the organisms that live in different water environments. Aquatic biologists focus their studies on the behavior of these living organisms and how they interact with each other, as well as studying their origins, genetics, and health. Many aquatic biologists can also study the water in a specific environment.
The profession of aquatic biology can be broken down into three different specialties:
- Biological Oceanographer
- Marine Biologist
Biological oceanographers study how living organisms affect, and are affected by, the physical, geological, and chemical make up of a saltwater environment.
Marine biologists study living organisms in a saltwater environment, from the tiniest phytoplankton all the way up to the largest whales, and everything in between.
Limnologists focus their studies on plants, animals and microbes living in freshwater environments including:
- Lakes and ponds
- Rivers and streams
These three job specialties can be broken down even further into very detailed sub-specialties depending on the biologist’s professional focus. All of these different jobs have many overlapping duties and areas of study.
Aquatic biologists also study the water itself, including analyzing what the water is made up of and how the water’s specific conditions affect the organisms that live in it. The water conditions they study include:
- The amount of salt in the water, or salinity
- Light levels or zones
- Oxygen levels
All types of aquatic biologists can work for a variety of employers, including:
- Conservation Groups
- Private Laboratories
- Governments Agencies
- Educational Centers
- Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers
Aquatic biologists use the scientific method to carry out experiments designed to answer specific questions about organisms and water.
They use a variety of scientific equipment, technology, and science based computer software programs to collect and study samples of both water and living creatures. The tools they use depend on the specific question they are trying to answer.
Sometimes aquatic biologists have to build models of different environments in order to control certain factors while completing an experiment.
After finishing a study or experiment, an aquatic biologist must organize the information they’ve collected into a report or presentation and share it with others, including people that are not scientists. This means they must be able to take complicated information and share it with people, in a way that they can understand why it is important.
Aquatic biologists must understand the available funds, budget, and time frame for a project before they design and carry out their study. They must be able to use the tools and supplies that they have in order to complete the project within the budget allowed. Also, they must plan their projects wisely so that they meet required deadlines.
Aquatic biologists complete part of their work out in the field, some of it in a laboratory environment, and the rest in an office. This means they must be comfortable working in all different environments, including different weather.
They are responsible for staying up to date on new technology, research and acceptable methods within their field of study. They must always follow safety regulations and legal guidelines in all areas of their work.
Aquatic biologists can also work to help communities in a variety of ways, including:
- helping clean up the environment after a human caused spill or natural disaster, including helping to take care of any injured animals
- working for organizations that focus on protecting and conserving threatened aquatic areas
- preparing information used to educate, raise awareness and money
- participating in land use studies and helping to plan and support the use of environmentally safe rules and procedures
Some aquatic biologists work to test the pollution levels in a certain environment and keep a record to see if pollution in the area is getting better, worse, or staying the same.
Part of this work is studying the area to see what factors might be affecting the pollution levels, including the impact of humans. They also study how the pollution is affecting the organisms that live in the area.
Once the pollution levels and different factors are figured out, aquatic biologists play a role in making a plan to fix the problem.
A successful aquatic biologist must be able to think critically to solve challenging environmental problems. They must be very observant and able to carefully follow scientific procedures, while still being able to use creative ideas to approach a problem from a new angle.
Aquatic biologist must be able to handle complicated information and organize it into scientific reports as well as present it in a way that people who don’t work in a scientific field can understand it. They need to be comfortable working independently, or in a team, and communicate well verbally and in writing.