The future prospects of marine biologists are
subject to the same sorts of things that affect
the prospects in any profession: the need for
people in that profession, the number of people
going into the profession, the state of the
economy, etc. Another important factor to
consider is how much money the government is
interested in spending on research, because a lot
of the jobs and funding for marine biology come
from the government.
What the demand for marine biologists will be
in the future is difficult to predict. However,
there are a number of factors suggesting that the
demand for at least some types of marine
biologists will be high.
The ocean covers about 70% of the earth.
Historically, people have used the ocean for
transportation and to get food. Because for
thousands of years people have not had the
technology to safely venture far into the ocean,
its vast reaches were mostly limited to explorers
and a few intrepid trading cultures. Activities
such as fishing, however, were strictly limited to
a very narrow band along coasts. The rest of the
ocean was left alone practically untouched.
In the last century our use of the ocean has
increased dramatically. Early in the century
mechanized trans-oceanic transportation became
commonplace, and ocean-wide pollution became a
very real issue. This pollution can range from
dumping of materials overboard to the oils and
paints that come off of the ships. With
mechanization also came the ability to fish far
from land, resulting in the depletion of fish not
just along shores but across the entire ocean.
Some countries are beginning to use the ocean for
drinking water, constructing large desalinization
plants to remove the salt from the seawater.
People are also drilling under the ocean to
remove oil. All of this activity has led to a new
problem, which affects many animals such as
whales: underwater noise pollution. And, along
the coasts, the vast increase in human population
has led to many crises as the ocean resources
people have relied on for centuries have now
disappeared or been ruined.
This rapid increase in global ocean use has
taught us that the ocean is not an endless supply
of fish, nor is it an environment so large that we
cannot alter it. In addition to a source of
resources, we have also now begun to understand
that the ocean is an incredibly important factor
in sustaining life. For example, much of the
oxygen we breathe comes from plants in the ocean,
and the ocean is important in maintaining climate.
Because the ocean is so important and because
there are so many challenges facing us in the
future regarding how we can use the ocean, it is
likely that there will be a need for marine
biologists to examine how life in the ocean
functions in the future. There will be a need for
people to study how our activities have impacted
the ocean and how we can correct problems and use
the ocean more safely. Especially along coastal
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