The world’s oceans are filled with an incredible array of life. From tiny microorganisms all the way up to giant whales, the diversity of life found beneath the surface of the water is staggering.
Marine biologists are special scientists who study the organisms that live underwater. Within the field of marine biology, there are a variety of different subspecialties. Marine mammalogists fall into this category. These scientists specialize in studying mammals that live in the water such as sea lions, dolphins, seals, otters, manatees, porpoises, and whales.
Within the field of marine mammalogy, the most common career paths are usually related to research. Scientists in these research positions focus on studying the physiology and habits of these creatures in an effort to learn more about them.
Much of the work that they do takes place in the field. In fact, anyone thinking about starting a career in marine mammalogy should be ready to spend a lot of their time out in the wild rather than in a lab or office.
That is not to say that research doesn’t occur in a laboratory setting. However, the best way to learn more about how these animals really behave is by studying them in their own natural environment. That means getting out of the lab and spending time in the field.
Some scientists in this field also go to work for aquariums or zoos, helping to manage the wildlife that is on display and to create educational programs for visitors. In some cases, they also work for the government or for museums, conservation groups, or educational institutions.
Most positions in the field of marine mammalogy require a bachelor’s degree at the bare minimum. For more advanced positions, students will need to pursue graduate work before being hired.
Students interested in this field should pursue a degree in marine biology, taking as many classes as they can that are specifically related to marine mammals. After graduation, they can then decide whether they want to focus on all marine mammals or on a specific species, custom tailoring their career to their ultimate objectives.
All in all, marine mammalogy can be a fun and rewarding career. Mammals that live underwater have always fascinated people – with good cause. They tend to be extremely intelligent and have a unique physiology that makes them extremely interesting to study. It is no wonder that so many marine biologists choose to specialize in this sub-field after they graduate from school.
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