What does an oceanographer do

What Does an Oceanographer Do?

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What Does an Oceanographer Do?

The formal study of the ocean’s depths, known as oceanography, is a relatively recent development compared to the long history of seafaring.

71% of the Earth’s surface is made up of water, while a mere 29% is land. And yet, these oceans are some of the most undiscovered places on our planet. But there is one role that is made to explore this water body and study it through and through. Meet the oceanographer, a role made for the ocean and the ocean only.

Oceanographers are scientists who study the ocean in lots of different ways – like its chemistry, biology, and even how the land beneath the ocean changes. They also look at the history of the ocean, its current conditions, and its future.

What does an oceanographer do
What does an oceanographer do

Oceanographers come in many types too. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Ocean Animal Detectives: Biological oceanographers are like detectives for ocean creatures, big and small. They study everything from tiny plankton to enormous whales, figuring out where they live, how they interact with each other and their environment. This helps us understand the health of the ocean and how to use it responsibly for food, energy, and transportation.
  • Ocean Chemists: Chemical oceanographers are the ocean’s chemists, analyzing the makeup of the water. They look at all sorts of chemicals, both natural and man-made, like salt and even gold!
  • Ocean Floor Explorers: Geological oceanographers are like explorers of the ocean floor. They map the seabeds, figuring out what they’re made of, their shapes, and how they’re constantly changing.
  • Ocean Motion Masters: Physical oceanographers are the masters of movement in the ocean. They study currents, tides, and waves, both on the surface and deep down. Understanding these movements helps us predict weather patterns, manage coastlines, and even harness the power of waves for renewable energy!

What are the duties of an oceanographer?

So, you’re sold on the idea of studying all about the ocean world and what it holds? Well, you might need more than just diving equipment for that. As an oceanographer, you will study different parts of the ocean, like its chemistry, biology, geology, and physics. It will be your duty to try and understand how oceans function, predict changes, and figure out the best ways to use ocean resources in a more sustainable way.

What are the duties of an oceanographer?
What Does an Oceanographer Do?
What are the duties of an oceanographer?

To become an oceanographer, you’d need a strong background in science and math (yes, this one is very unexpected). You should also be open to new ideas, good at communicating, and skilled with computers and observation. Oceanographers often work both alone and in teams, and they might spend time at sea or in labs. They also travel to different places, sometimes abroad.

At some point, you might even collect and analyze samples from the ocean, using computers to model ocean processes and write reports about their findings.

And don’t worry, it’s not all paperwork. You will get to finally dive underwater using special equipment to solve specific problems. Like any other job, there will be moments of pressure but that is where your communication and problem-solving skills will really shine through.

Key Responsibilities of an Oceanographer

Collect and analyze data from the ocean

Study marine life and substances in seawater

Test hypotheses using statistical models

Attend conferences to share findings

Go on research expeditions

Apply for grants

Write reports and papers

Education and Background Needed for a Career in Oceanography

At the very least, you would require a bachelor’s or master’s degree in physics, chemistry, math, or biology. You should start specializing in one of the four main fields of oceanography, namely physical oceanography, biological oceanography, chemical oceanography, or geological oceanography. You would need a Ph.D. for college-level or teaching positions. 

Oceanographers work in public and private institutions and even museums. Private firms hire oceanographers to search for sea-floor deposits, investigate areas for sea farming, and evaluate natural energy production from waves, currents, and tides.

The Work of Oceanographers: Unveiling Marine Mysteries

The work of oceanographers is connected with fieldwork and laboratory work that is related to the ocean. You could be examining biological or chemical samples of the ocean, conducting experiments, and writing research reports.

You could also be using any of the technological equipment that is used to explore the oceans and marine organisms. High-frequency radars measure the speed and direction of ocean currents. Seagliders are autonomous underwater vehicles that measure ocean parameters.

You could also be attaching tags to sea animals, or using buoys and drifters to collect information about ocean currents. Clod cards are put into the ocean to study underwater sea patterns. SONAR, geographical information systems, and satellite oceanography are used to look at the color of the seawater, estimate the surface impact of storms, and measure sea temperature.

The cumulative effect of all this equipment and technology has contributed to a greater and better understanding of our oceans.

Oceanography in Action: Where and Why It Matters

The work of oceanographers has contributed to a better understanding of our environment by looking at the effects of marine pollution and climate change. It also looks at the result of habitat destruction. The work of Jacques Cousteau and Slyvia Earle has been pioneering in this context. Jacques Cousteau and his assistant Emile Gagnan invented the Aqualung in 1943 which enabled underwater sea explorers to go up to a depth of 100 feet and beyond. He also documented life under the ocean floor and brought it through TV into our living rooms.

Sylvia Earle is another pioneering marine biologist who developed the Deep Rover Research submarine that can operate underwater up to 1000 meters or 3300 feet.  This has greatly helped in the field of underwater exploration and led to efforts for marine conservation.

Becoming an Oceanographer: Education and Pathways

If you want to be an oceanographer, you could take any courses available at different colleges and universities at the bachelor’s or master’s level. This could range from a Bachelor of Science in Marine and Coastal Sciences, a BS in Marine Science, a Bachelor in Marine Biology, a BA/BS in Oceanography, and a Bachelor in Fisheries and Marine Science.

Oceanographers need to be physically fit and be willing to spend extended periods at sea both on the ocean and exploring its depths for research studies and experiments. They need to have strong analytical abilities with a knowledge of how to use technology and equipment. They need to have good writing and communication skills and the ability to write reports and research papers.

The Ocean’s Call – How You Can Dive In

So, ever wondered what it takes to become an ocean explorer, like a real-life Jacques Cousteau?  If the ocean makes you curious, you can become an oceanographer!  Pick something specific about the ocean that fascinates you –  like a particular animal, wave patterns, or even the seabed.  Then, take science classes to learn the basics.

To acquire hands-on experience, look for internships or volunteer programs with ocean research groups. There are tons of interesting places you can work at, like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)!  The ocean needs smart people like you to protect it and unlock its mysteries. Are you ready to jump in?

People Also Ask

What are the duties of an oceanographer?

Oceanographers study the ocean,  like scientists who study space study space! Their tasks typically involve:

  • Planning research trips on ships
  • Collecting data and samples from the water and seafloor
  • Analyzing information in labs
  • Creating models on computers to understand ocean processes
  • Writing reports and sharing their discoveries

What does an oceanographer do day to day?

An oceanographer’s day can vary depending on where they are in the research process.  They might spend a day:

  • On a ship collecting data with special equipment
  • In a lab analyzing water samples under a microscope
  • Working on a computer to model ocean currents
  • Writing a report about their findings

Do oceanographers make a lot of money?

The salary of an oceanographer can vary depending on their experience, education, and employer.  Some oceanographers work for government agencies, while others work for universities or private companies.  Overall, oceanography is a specialized field, and oceanographers can expect to earn a competitive salary.