by Nishigandha Pednekar, Education Officer, Marine Biodiversity and Conservation course, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS)
What is marine biodiversity?
Marine biodiversity refers to the variety of life in coastal and ocean environments. It also includes estuaries, lagoons, coral reefs, shores and some tropical ecosystems like mangrove forests. Much of the marine biodiversity resides in ecosystems based around coral reefs or areas of underwater activity. This biodiversity has been under threat for many years.
Who are marine biologists and what does their job entail?
Marine biologists are people who study the science of living organisms in the ocean or other bodies of water. The study covers areas under the purview of ecology and the interaction of organisms with their surrounding habitat. A marine biologist helps us to understand how humans can meet their basic requirements of food and medicine through the marine environment.
Why is the study of this field important?
Marine biodiversity is crucial to humankind because it provides us with a variety of products and services essential for survival and well-being. Without marine biodiversity, the production of food, ingredients for biotechnology and pharmaceuticals and even the composition of land would be depleted. The study of marine biodiversity also helps us work towards the protection of oceans and their resources and sustainable development.
What is the eligibility criteria for this field?
One has to be an MSc in a subject like chemistry, botany, zoology, environmental science or oceanography. Some institutes offer an MSc in marine biology too.
Where can a marine biologist work?
One can get into research in different governmental or non-governmental agencies. A lot of corporate houses want such researchers for their social responsibility projects. One can get involved in colleges and universities as a professor. One can also be an environmental activist and propagate causes through oneʼs own non-governmental organization (NGO). Different NGOs like the World Wildlife Fund and The Nature Conservancy also focus on environmental advocacy and marine conservation.
What subjects do you need to be good at in school?
Mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology.
What is the future scope in India and abroad?
Though there is immense scope for research and development as this field is emerging, not many people in India are aware of it. The jobs in this field are still developing in India. The scope is limited due to lack of experimentation but lots of NGOs are promoting this cause. The scope is much more in countries like USA, UK and Australia.
What would the pay scales be in this field?
One can start with a salary of Rs 8,000 per month and move on with further experience.
PLACES THAT COULD BE OF HELP
- Cochin University of Science and Technology offers an MSc in Marine Biology University Post Office, Kochi, Kerala – 682022. Website: www.cusat.ac.in
- Goa University offers an MSc in Physical Oceanography Bambolim, Panaji, Goa - 403001. Website: www.unigoa.ac.in
- BNHS offers a Course in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation Hornbill House, Dr Salim Ali Chowk, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Road, Mumbai - 400001. Website: www.bnhs.org