Connect Through Science
When most of us think about the ocean sciences, marine biology or oceanography are usually at the top of the list. But there are many other branches of science that can be considered part of ocean science. Given that the ocean is our single biggest resource, covers approximately 75% of the Earth’s surface and provides around 50% of the oxygen we breathe, it makes sense that there is a wide range of scientific pursuits tied to the ocean. In fact, one could make the case that every major branch of science is, in some way, an “ocean” science. Of course, there are obvious ones like ecology, hydrology, biology, and chemistry. But what about those branches of science that may not be so clearly related to the ocean? For example . . .
The Search for Extraterrestrial Life
Can astrobiology, the area of science that involves the search for extraterrestrial life, be considered an ocean science? After all, you cannot get much further away from the ocean than, say, Pluto. But one of the primary things astrobiologists search for on other planets is traces of saltwater. Why? Because it is believed that the ocean is where life first started on Earth, and scientists think that if another world once held saltwater, then life might have existed there as well. And where do astrobiologists test many of their theories? In the deep ocean, where conditions are so inhospitable that it is an excellent substitute for the harsh conditions you would find in space.
Jellyfish and Climate Change
Can physics – which involves studying the structure of matter – be considered an ocean science? Absolutely. And a very important ocean science at that because physical oceanographers study ocean currents and ocean mixing – the why, where, and how of water movement, as well as the consequences of those movements. Jellyfish, seaweed, and a host of other sea creatures large and small depend on the movement of the ocean (e.g., currents) for transportation, food, and survival. Physical Oceanography also plays an enormously important part in helping us understand the ocean’s role in climate change.
The point is that if you have an interest in the ocean and an interest in a particular area of science, you can easily find a way to connect the two interests.
To help you make that connection and to give you an idea of what opportunities are out there, Ocean Connect has created snapshots of different areas of ocean-related science. Each snapshot provides a general overview of that particular area of science and gives you the specific path you need to pursue that area of study throughout your high school and college years. Each snapshot also contains a link to our Opportunities Database, where you can find internships, academic programs, research opportunities, and training programs that focus on that particular area of science. But there is so much more, so please click on one of the areas listed in the right-hand column that interests you and get started!