Studying marine animals and their habitats is known as marine biology (coastal and open ocean habitats). A tide pool in Santa Cruz, California; School of barracudas on Pom Pom Island, Malaysia; research submarine for marine research; and fan mussel in a Mediterranean seagrass meadow, in that order, starting at the top left.
About Marine Biology
The scientific study of the biology of marine animals, or life in the sea, is known as marine biology. Marine biology classifies species based on the environment rather than taxonomy because many phyla, families, and genera in biology have some species that live in the water and others that live on land.
The ocean is home to a huge majority of all life on Earth. Since many ocean species have yet to be identified, it is unknown how huge this significant component is in detail. In a complex three-dimensional environment, the oceans occupy around 71% of the Earth’s surface.
The habitats studied in marine biology range from the microscopic layers of surface water where organisms and inanimate objects may be caught in the surface tension between the ocean and atmosphere, to the depths of the oceanic trenches, which can be as deep as 10,000 meters or more below the ocean’s surface. Estuaries, coral reefs, kelp forests, seagrass meadows, the area around seamounts and thermal vents, tidepools, muddy, sandy, and rocky bottoms, and the open ocean (pelagic) zone are examples of specific habitats.
In this area, solid objects are scarce and the only discernible boundary is the water’s surface. From tiny phytoplankton and zooplankton to enormous cetaceans (whales) measuring 25–32 meters (82–105 feet), a wide variety of species are being examined. The subject of marine ecology examines interactions between marine animals and their surroundings.
Marine life is a plentiful resource that contributes to global recreation and tourism as well as providing food, medicine, and raw materials. Marine life plays a key role in determining the fundamental makeup of our world. The oxygen cycle and the regulation of the Earth’s climate are both greatly aided by marine species. Marine life influences and protects shorelines in various ways, and some marine creatures even help form new land.
Humans depend on many species for their economic well-being, including both finfish and shellfish. The underlying connections between the health of other creatures and marine organisms are also coming to light. With new findings being revealed almost daily, the human corpus of knowledge understanding the connection between marine life and significant cycles is rapidly expanding. These cycles include those of air and matter (such as the carbon cycle and the transfer of energy through ecosystems like the ocean). Effectively unexplored are vast stretches of the ocean floor.
History of the Course
Aristotle (384–322 BC), who made numerous observations of the marine life in Lesbos and laid the groundwork for numerous later discoveries, is credited with the origin of the science of marine biology. The Historia Fucorum, the first work on marine algae and the first book on marine biology to employ Linnaeus’s new binomial nomenclature, was published in 1768 by Samuel Gottlieb Gmelin (1744-1774). On folded leaves, there were detailed depictions of seaweed and marine algae. The field of marine biology is typically seen as having its roots in the work of British naturalist Edward Forbes (1815–1844). Over the 19th century, the rate of oceanographic and marine biological research dramatically increased.
The insights made in the early marine biology research served as the impetus for the succeeding period of exploration. This period saw a significant increase in our understanding of the life that inhabits the world’s waters. This body of knowledge was substantially influenced by numerous journeys. The voyages of the HMS Beagle, where Charles Darwin developed his theories of evolution and the formation of coral reefs, were among the most important.
However, the HMS Challenger carried out another significant expedition, and the findings of an unexpectedly high species diversity in the fauna led to much theorizing on the part of population ecologists about how such a variety of life could be maintained in what was perceived to be such a harsh environment. Naturalists’ ability to study animals that lived in deep oceanic regions was still constrained during this period, which is significant for the history of marine biology. This was due to a lack of equipment.
It was crucial to establish marine laboratories so that marine biologists could conduct the study and handle their excursion samples. The College of France founded the Station Biologique de Roscoff near Concarneau, France, which is home to the oldest marine laboratory in the world. The renowned Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute was established in 1930, whereas the Scripps Institution of Oceanography was established in the United States in 1903. Technology advancements in areas like sound navigation ranging, scuba diving equipment, submersibles, and remotely operated vehicles have enabled marine biologists to find and study species in the deep waters that were previously believed to be nonexistent.