Seventy per cent of the Earth’s surface is covered by oceans and seas. We are reliant on our oceans and seas for many things, although most importantly for food, exploitable energy sources (such as wind power, oil and gas) and tourism revenue. It is easy to see, therefore, how our health and the health of our planet depends in no small part on the condition of our oceans and seas.
The world’s oceans contain some of the richest areas of biodiversity. Our seas are already showing the effects of climate change and we must ensure that marine ecosystems are sufficiently healthy to be resilient in the face of changing conditions.
The UK has one of the world’s richest marine environments. As an island nation we are responsible for a sea area over three times larger than our land area. It includes shallow coastal waters and ocean depths of over 2,000 metres as far as 350 nautical miles (650 km) off the north-west of Scotland. We have about 20,000 km of coastline (roughly equivalent to half way round the world). Over 8,000 animal and plant species have been recorded in our seas and the number continues to grow as scientists discover more life in our oceans.
Marine scientists are involved in research, analysis and forecasts in relation to the oceans, their life forms and coastal areas. They analyse the sea and its interaction with the land, atmosphere and sea floors and use the information gained to predict changes to the earth’s infrastructure, inform statutory legislation and encourage environmental protection.
Marine scientists are employed by universities, international organisations, commercial companies, government agencies, not-for-profit organisations and marine research institutes.
While all roles require good general expertise and scientific abilities, specialisation in one particular area, such as coastal management, fisheries biology, mathematical modelling of ocean change, ecosytem dynamics or chemical risk assessment, is usually required for progression in the profession.
The National Oceanography Centre is the United Kingdom’s centre of excellence for oceanographic sciences.
IMarEST (The Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology) has produced information introducing you to some of the exciting careers available in marine science, engineering and technology.
Society for Underwater Technology (SUT) is a multidisciplinary learned society that brings together organisations and individuals with a common interest in underwater technology, ocean science and offshore engineering. SUT administer a scholarship for gifted students within marine science and engineering, and also offer a range of educational resources.
Reviewed June 2023