Careers in Oceanography

The major disciplines of oceanography are geological oceanography, physical oceanography and chemical oceanography. Oceanographers and others involved in these disciplines often work together to unravel the mysteries and unknowns of ocean science. In reading about each of these sub-fields, keep in mind that some of the most important oceanographic discoveries have been made as a result of an integrated, multidisciplinary approach, often involving geologists, chemists, biologists, physical oceanographers and engineers.

Marine biology is sometimes called biological oceanography and could be included in this section. We have not done that. One distinction that has been made between the fields of marine biology and biological oceanography is this: marine biologists study the plants, animals and protists of our estuaries, coasts and oceans, ranging from whales to microscopic algae and bacteria, and biological oceanographers study marine organisms and their biological processes within the context of their natural environment.

As a growing global population stresses the ability of our society to produce food, water and shelter, we will continue to look to the oceans to help sustain our basic needs. Advances in technology, combined with demand, will improve our ability to derive food, drinking water, energy sources, waste disposal and transportation from the ocean. It will be up to this and future generations to build upon our existing knowledge of the ocean and its potential to help meet the needs of the world and its inhabitants.

Oceanography Requirements

  • Name four branches of oceanography. Describe at least five reasons why it is important for people to learn about the oceans.
  • Define salinity, temperature, and density, and describe how these important properties of seawater are measured by the physical oceanographer.
  • Discuss the circulation and currents of the ocean. Describe the effects of the oceans on weather and climate.
  • Describe the characteristics of ocean waves. Point out the differences among the storm surge, tsunami, tidal wave, and tidal bore. Explain the difference between sea, swell, and surf. Explain how breakers are formed.
  • Draw a cross-section of underwater topography. Show what is meant by: Continental shelf, Continental slope and Abyssal plain

2). Name and put on your drawing the following: seamount, guyot, rift valley, canyon, trench, and oceanic ridge. Compare the depths in the oceans with the heights of mountains on land.

  • List the main salts, gases, and nutrients in seawater. Describe some important properties of water. Tell how the animals and plants of the ocean affect the chemical composition of seawater. Explain how differences in evaporation and precipitation affect the salt content of the oceans.
  • Describe some of the biologically important properties of seawater. De ne benthos, nekton, and plankton. Name some of the plants and animals that make up each of these groups. Describe the place and importance of phytoplankton in the oceanic food chain.

3). Do ONE of the following:

  • Make a series of models (clay or plaster and wood)
    of a volcanic island. Show the growth of an atoll from a fringing reef through a barrier reef.
  • Measure the water temperature at the surface, midwater, and bottom of a body of water four times daily for five consecutive days.* You may measure depth with a rock tied to a line.  Measure the air temperature. Note the cloud cover and roughness of the water. Show your findings (air and water temperature, turbidity) on a graph. Tell how the water temperature changes with air temperature.
  • Make a model showing the in shore sediment movement by littoral currents, tidal movement, and wave action. Include such formations as high and low waterlines, low-tide terrace, berm, and coastal cliffs. Show how offshore bars are built up and torn down.
  • Track and monitor satellite images available on the Internet for a specific location for three weeks. Describe what you have learned to your counselor.
  • Describe four methods that marine scientists use to investigate the ocean, underlying geology, and organisms living in the water.

4). Visit one of the following:
(1) Oceanographic research ship
(2) Oceanographic institute, marine laboratory, or marine aquarium
Write a 500-word report about your visit.

Explain to our class in a five-minute prepared speech “Why Oceanography Is Important” or describe “Career Opportunities in Oceanography.” (Before making your speech, show your speech outline to your counselor for approval.)