What Is the Difference Between Marine Science and Marine Biology?

David Hastings Marine Science

The differences between marine biology and marine science are numerous. The two fields study the biology and ecology of the marine environment. Marine biology studies the behavior of ocean organisms. For example, kelp, sea grass, and coral reefs are ecosystem engineers that reshape the marine environment, creating habitat for many other species.


While there is a lot of overlap between marine science and marine biology, there are also many differences. Marine biology studies animals and plants that live in the ocean, such as coral reefs and kelp forests. Marine science studies these habitats and their organisms, from microscopic bacteria to gigantic cetaceans.

A bachelor’s degree in marine biology can lead to a variety of careers. A marine biologist might work on research projects in coastal zones to study the ecosystem’s health. An oceanographer might work on oceanographic studies or on research to find ways to save endangered species. A marine scientist may also work in the private sector, such as an oceanographic data analyst.

Deep-sea ecology

Deep-sea ecology is an area of marine science and biology that studies marine organisms and ecosystems. These organisms are microorganisms, such as algae. They provide crucial habitats to other species, including larger fish and invertebrates. They are also essential to the health of ecosystems by producing photosynthetic energy that rivals terrestrial forests. The water column is a rich ecosystem full of different organisms, including microscopic algae and plankton. In addition to these, seagrass areas form a natural habitat for marine life.

The deep sea is a narrow region of the sea that contains strong currents and oceanographic features. These currents carry sediment to the ocean floor and create a channel. Many of these currents are chemotactic, which means they move and use chemical reactions to produce energy. They differ from phototrophs, which rely on sunlight as an energy source.


Phytoplankton is a vital part of the carbon cycle in the ocean. Scientists estimate that at one time, there were about a billion tonnes of phytoplankton in the world’s oceans. These organisms must reproduce roughly 45 times a year to generate that much biomass. For comparison, land plants have about 500 billion tonnes of biomass.

Phytoplankton is also an essential source of oxygen in the ocean. Moreover, they are the first link in many marine food chains. They use energy from the sun and nutrients from the water to reproduce and maintain their populations. Because they live in the ocean’s surface waters, phytoplankton reproduction depends on replenishing nutrients. When these nutrients are abundant and the sunlight is intense, phytoplankton blooms occur, causing a chain reaction in the food web.


Microbiology in marine science focuses on the study of the microscopic organisms that make the world’s oceans and seas live. These microbes include bacteria, archaea, protozoans, and fungi. These organisms can be found in the open ocean, coastal waters, estuaries, marine surfaces, and sediments. This discipline also includes the study of their interactions with other organisms, such as animals.

Marine microorganisms perform many different functions in the marine environment and contribute to the global cycles of matter and energy. Their abundance and diversity are determined by factors that influence how they interact with other organisms. For example, sea spray containing marine microorganisms can be carried to the atmosphere, where they become aeroplankton and travel the globe. Eventually, these microorganisms fall back to earth.


The salary of marine biologists is mainly dependent on the field of study and the subject that they specialize in. For example, a marine biologist who works in fisheries may earn much higher pay than someone who studies unknown species. But the payment will also depend on their level of experience and reputation.

As with many fields, there are plenty of unpaid positions in the environmental sciences. While these positions may exclude marginalized groups, they can also promote the field of science in underserved areas and provide the first step for early-career scientists.

Research methods

Marine scientists use data to better understand the ocean’s environment. Their work includes the study of the physical and chemical properties of the sea and its interactions with the atmosphere. Some of the most popular areas of research involve dolphins and other marine mammals. These careers are highly competitive, though, so research opportunities may not be readily available.

Marine scientists study animals and plants that live in or near the ocean, as well as airborne and terrestrial organisms that rely on saltwater for survival. They also learn the processes of the sea as they affect different ecosystems. Research methods in marine biology range from theoretical approaches to lab-based experiments. The conceptual framework used is based on the research question.

Additional Information