Recently I was reading a novel, wherein one of the leading character was visiting the diverse waters of the Sundarbans to study the marine life. It set my imagination bursting into flames of fancy pictures of me diving into the deep blue seas and swimming with the colorful, pulsating fishes, studying the waves, currents. This set me looking at the lesser-known but super exciting field of Oceanography.
Oceanology and marine science or Oceanography is the branch of Earth science that studies the ocean. Oceanography covers a huge range of topics, including ecosystems and marine life, plate tectonics, the geology of the seafloor and the ocean circulation, the chemical and physical properties of the ocean. Oceanographers need to have a profound understanding of biology, chemistry, geology, and physics to unravel the mysteries of the ocean and to understand evolutions within it. Simply put it is a Science of Ocean.
A Career in Oceanography
There are numerous oceanography jobs in industry, commerce or research. All a person needs to pursue a career in oceanography is love and curiosity for the ocean. A student needs to develop physical strength, strong mathematical and scientific approach swimming and diving skills, high tolerance to motion sickness, flexible approach to work, accuracy and attention to details, additional to educational qualifications. As in any other field of education, there are four main types of oceanography from which you can choose from:
- Physical oceanography studies the properties of currents, waves, tides and ocean circulation.
- Chemical oceanography is the study of ocean chemistry. Chemical oceanography – determines the chemical composition of seawater and sediments.
- Biological oceanography is the study of life in the oceans. Biological oceanography- studies marine animals and plants and how organisms interact with their environment.
- Geological oceanography is the study of Earth beneath the oceans. Geological oceanography – examines the seabed, including the rocks and minerals.
There are many colleges in India offering courses in this career field. These courses are offered at various levels, from Bachelors to Masters. Some courses offered by various colleges are:
- B.Sc. Marine Science(3 years)
- M.Sc. Marine Biology(2 years)
- M.Tech in Oceanography or Marine Biology (2years)
- M.Phil. Marine Biology
- Ph.D. Oceanography
- Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh)
- Cochin University of Science and Technology: Department of Physical Oceanography, Kochi (Kerala)
- Karnataka University, DhÄrwad (Karnataka)
- Pondicherry University: Port Blair campus, Port Blair.
- Berhampur University, Berhampur (Orissa)
- Andhra University: College of Science and Technology, Vishakhapatnam
To pursue a bachelor’s in oceanography, the minimum eligibility is 55% in your intermediate examination with chemistry, physics and mathematics or biology. There are various entrance examinations conducted by different colleges for admission in this course. For pursuing a masters in this field, you need to have a graduation degree in either oceanography or other related courses like zoology, botany, microbiology, fishery, etc.
Oceanographers use science and mathematics to study and explain the complex interactions between seawater, freshwater, polar ice caps, the atmosphere, and the biosphere. You’ll usually receive on the job training from your employer. Tasks will also depend on the type of employer and your level of training and experience but may include: collecting samples and data from the sea, seafloor or atmosphere using specialized equipment and techniques. You’ll also have to analyze samples for natural and contaminant composition; looking at life forms and matter, such as trace metals, present in seawater.
Oceanographer’s perform simulations of phenomena using a computer or mathematical models; using statistical models of laboratory and field data to investigate hypotheses and make predictions. Apart from all these, you’ll be attending conferences and going on research cruises; submitting proposals to obtain research funding; writing reports and papers on research activities, giving lectures in university classes and leading field trips.
The salary varies according to the qualifications & experience of a person. The joining level salary of a graduate can be around 20, 000 to 25,000 INR while the same for a postgraduate student can be around 35,000 INR. The salary of an oceanographer is significantly higher in countries like the US, UK, and France.
A Career in oceanography is becoming a popular choice among students who want to opt for an exciting and challenging career. As the population discovers new ways to use the oceans — be it for food, transportation, energy or waste disposal — oceanographers will play an important role in improving our knowledge about the impact of these activities on the ocean and its ability to sustain them. Go unravel the mysteries and unknowns of ocean science!!