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What is Marine Life?

Marine life, or sea life or ocean life, is the plants, animals and other organisms that live in the salt water of the sea or ocean, or the brackish water of coastal estuaries. At a fundamental level, marine life helps determine the very nature of our planet. Marine organisms produce much of the oxygen we breathe. So Simply marine biology is the study of life in the oceans and other saltwater environments such as estuaries and wetlands. All plant and animal life forms are included from the microscopic picoplankton all the way to the majestic blue whale, the largest creature in the sea—and for that matter in the world.

Why Study Marine Biology?

Life in the sea has been a subject of fascination for thousands of years. One of the most important reasons for the study of sea life is simply to understand the world in which we live. The oceans cover 71% (and rising) of this world, and yet we have only scratched the surface when it comes to understanding them. Scientists estimate that no more than 5% of the oceans have been explored. Yet, we need to understand the marine environment that helps support life on this planet, for example:


Health of the oceans/planet

  • Climate change
  • Pollution (toxicology, dumping, runoff, impact of recreation, blooms)
  • Coral reefs
  • Invasive species...

  • How is Marine Biology Studied?

    Advances in technology have opened up the ocean to exploration from the shallows to the deep sea. New tools for marine research are being added to the list of tools that have been used for decades such as:


  • Trawling - has been used in the past to collect marine specimens for study, except that trawling can be very damaging to delicate marine environments and it is difficult to collect samples discriminately. However when used in the midwater environment, trawls can be every effective at collecting samples of elusive species with a wide migratory range.

  • Plankton nets - plankton nets have a very fine weave to catch microscopic organisms in seawater for study.

  • Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) - have been used underwater since the 1950s. ROVs are basically unmanned submarine robots with umbilical cables used to transmit data between the vehicle and researcher for remote operation in areas where diving is constrained by health or other hazards. ROVs are often fitted with video and still cameras as well as with mechanical tools for specimen retrieval and measurements.





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