7 Of The World’s Most Renowned Marine Biologists and What They Achieved - The Good Human (2022)

Marine biology is the study of marine organisms. It involves many aspects of analsying the behaviour and interactions of aquatic plants and animals. There are unsurprisingly, many specialisations in the field.

Considering that 50-80% of Earth’s life-forms are underwater, this is a significant area to research. We know that the vast majority of the planet is under water, so insights into the organisms here can help us to understand the impact they may have on the environment as a whole.

New marine organisms are being discovered at a faster rate than ever before. This has been greatly supported by continuous advances un technology, but there are certain individuals that made huge contributions to the body of knowedge that we now have. Here we take a look at seven of the most renowned marine biologists, identifying the reasons for their well deserved places on this list.

Charles Darwin is very well known as the man behind the theory of evolution. We typically connect him to apes when we think of his work, but he was in fact an early marine biologist. He studied coral reefs in great depth, and this helped to develop his initial theories behind natural selection and ultimately evolution. His studies were particularly focused on marine invertebrates including plankton and barnacles. His third geological book, completed in 1846 shows his continued interest in the area of marine biology.

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change. ~Charles Darwin

Rachel Carson was an American environmentalist, famous for her eye-opening books, including Silent Spring, The Edge of The Sea and Under The Sea. These works of literature helped to teach the world about the dark future which lay ahead for the planet if changes were not made. As a result, the early environmental movement is largely credited to her.

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Rachel’s career began by submitting articles to local newspapers during her studies for her master’s degree in zoology. Rachel showed a real passion for marine biology and her findings fuelled her works on conservation.

Rachel became an aquatic biologist in the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, where she analysed and reported on populations of fish. Her reports were groundbreaking and she eventually made waves in publishing houses who took on her environmental literature.

Rachel is said to have been a catalyst for the formation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Her work eventually moved on to other areas, especially looking at the use of pesticides. Following her death she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter.

“To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of years, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.” ~ Rachel Carson

Jacques Cousteauwas a French marine biologist and conservationist, fascinated bythe lives of aquaticanimals and plants. His list of rolesmust also include Naval officer,explorer, filmmaker, scientist, photographer and author, although he described himself as anoceanographic technician.

He used his talents in story telling to bring his marine research to life in numerous books and film. His most famous work is probably theThe Silent World, a film based on his book of the same name, won aPalme d’orat theCannes Film Festival in 1956, almost unheard of for documentaries.

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Jacques also played a part in the creation of the“Aqua-Lung”, which was afirst of it’s kind form of open-circuit scuba diving equipment. He founded theFrench Oceanographic Campaigns (FOC) in 1950, alongside theUnderseas Research Group in France as well as FrenchUnderseas Research offices.

The sea, the great unifier, is man’s only hope. Now, as never before, the old phrase has a literal meaning: we are all in the same boat. ~Jacques-Yves Cousteau

Sylvia Earle, otherwise known as ‘Her Deepness’, is an American marine biologist, oceanographer, author, lecturer and National Geographic explorer-in-residence. Two of her biggest accolades have been that shewas the first female chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and also that she waswas named thefirst Hero for the Planet by Time Magazine in 1998.

She has enjoyed an illustrious career in marine biology, with a rolein theNational Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere before she co-foundedDeep Ocean Engineering which designed and built a state of the art research submarine known as Deep Rover. Sylvia founded theSustainable Seas Expeditions, and has founded marine conservation companies across the globe.

“I wish you would use all means at your disposal – films! expeditions! the web! more! — to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas, hope spots large enough to save and restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet.”~ Sylvia Earle

Hans Hasswas a highly respected Austrian marine biologist who is renowned in this area for numerous reasons. He redevelopedCousteau’s aqua-lung, including a ‘rebreather’ which enabled the user to inhale exhaled breath through a form of recycling the air. Hass and his team developed and researched the rebreather over the course of eleven years, perfecting it for use by other underwater professionals.

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He was also one of the first people to use an underwater camera to capture aquatic life for the benefit of documentary and photographic books.

Following his detailed research on the behaviour of aquatic life, Hass developed his well known for his energon theory. The fundamental claim is that human, nonhuman animal and plant behaviour all stems from common origins. Using this work, he aimed to combine elements of marine biology, behavioural and management science into a single discipline.

„The Energon Theory“ is the result of decades of intensive research and focusses on the energetic basis of life. After four billion years of evolution, mankind is certainly not the climax of this process. Are technology, economy, culture, etc. really something fundamentally different from animals and plants? It seems that there are identical laws underlying all forms of life including the cultural level of human life. ~ Hans Hass

Hass received many distinctions for his work in marine biology. He has an IADS Lifetime Achievement Award (International Association of Diving Schools) to his name, as well as thePlatinumRomyfor lifetime achievement (2012) and even a cone snailfound in the Philippines (2012), was named after him (Protoconus hanshassi).

Eugenie Clarkwas a world class American ichthyologist, (or scientist of fish) often described as“The Shark Lady”. The main body of her research was carried out on poisonous fish and sharks, which had captured her attention since she was a young girl.

Eugenie was one of the firsttouse scuba gear to conduct underwater scientific research, undertaking more than70 deep dives in submersibles, eveninto her nineties, despite being diagnosed with lung cancer.

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She lectured about her subject across the globe in more than 60 colleges, while studying the behaviour and ecology of fishes throughout the majority of her professional life. Eugenie dived with sharks on many occasions spanning a period of 40 years, but was only injured by one on land, when themounted jaw of a 12-foot tiger shark fell onto her from the passenger seat while she was driving to give a lecture.

Eugenie presented her work over the years in a series of reports, books and televisionshows. One of her most famous works is a book by the name of“Lady With a Spear”. Accolades for her life’s achievements include the Medal of Excellence by the American Society of Oceanographers, in 1994, as well as numerous species of fish namedin her honour. Much of her efforts were to dispel the public fear of sharks, and her National Geographic story,“Sharks: Magnificent and Misunderstood”is a fine example of this.

Eugenie discovered an effective shark repellent in the form of a creamy secretion given off by aflatfish called the Moses sole.

Not many appreciate the ultimate power and potential usefulness of basic knowledge accumulated by obscure, unseen investigators who, in a lifetime of intensive study, may never see any practical use for their findings but who go on seeking answers to the unknown without thought of financial or practical gain. ~Eugenie Clark

Leanne Armandis an Australian marine scientist, who is a specialist in Southern Oceandynamicsandsea ice. Her work has helped to explain how sea ice steersthe circulation of the ocean. She has also analysed thedistribution of diatoms, (a single-cell microscopicphytoplankton) which affects the physical mass of the sea, measuring salinity, nutrients and temperature. These are all things that can have a major impact at an environmental level.

There are of course many other individuals that have changed our understanding of marine biology, and still more who continue to make progress to this day.

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What are your thoughts? Are there any names that you think should be added to this list? Are you a Marine biologist? We would love to hear from you.

FAQs

Who is the most famous marine biologist in the world? ›

1. Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882)

Who was the 1st marine biologist? ›

The sea and its biological diversity were explored by the Greek classics and especially by the infamous Aristotle (384-322 BC), who should be considered the first marine biologist.

Who is a famous marine ecologist? ›

Richard C. Murphy "Murph" (born 1942) is an American marine ecologist and an author of two books.
Richard C. Murphy
Born1942 (age 79–80)
OccupationEcologist
TitleDirector of Science and Education for Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society
Websitehttp://www.rcmurph.com/index.htm#repeat

Who is the most famous female marine biologist? ›

Marine biologist Sylvia Earle has spent more than four decades at the forefront of ocean exploration -- and at age 83, she shows no signs of slowing down.

Who was the famous scientist in the study of marine science? ›

Jacques-Yves Cousteau, co-inventor of the aqua-lung, is well known for popularizing marine biology.

What is a marine biologist called? ›

They may also assess the impacts of human activities on marine life. Many marine biologists work under job titles such as wildlife biologist, zoologist, fish and wildlife biologist, fisheries biologist, aquatic biologist, conservation biologist, and biological technician.

Is marine biology hard? ›

But let us tell you now, that “getting into” marine biology is much the same as every other career - it requires hard work, commitment and the knowledge that you are entering a competitive field.

Who is the father of marine science? ›

Because he is the first to record observations on marine life, Aristotle is often referred to as the father of marine biology.

Which country is best for marine biology? ›

Costa rica has been called one of the most “biologically intense” places on Earth by National Geographic. With over 500,000 species, this Central American country is home to 4% of all the species in the world. If you're looking for the best place to study marine biology, you may be looking for Costa Rica.

How many marine biologists are there in the world? ›

How to Become a Marine Biologist
Education Requirements4-Year Bachelor's Degree for entry-level
Average Salary (2020)$66,350
Marine Biologists Employed in U.S. (2020)18,500
Projected Jobs Added by 20301,000
Projected Growth Rate5%
3 more rows

Who are the largest employers for marine biology? ›

Top-rated companies for Marine Biologists in the United States
  • United Way. 4.1. 2,363 reviews.
  • Kaiser Permanente. 4.1. 12,271 reviews.
  • EY. 4.0. 8,500 reviews.
  • NASA. 4.4. 1,498 reviews.
  • American Red Cross. 3.7. 7,821 reviews.

Who is the most famous ichthyologist? ›

Generally considered one of the most influential ichthyologists, David Starr Jordan wrote 650 articles and books on the subject and served as president of Indiana University and Stanford University.

How much do marine biologists make? ›

Average €42,597 per year.

Who was the first Black female marine biologist? ›

Roger Arliner Young was a brilliant marine biologist and the first Black woman to earn a doctorate in zoology. After receiving her Bachelor of Science from Howard University in 1923, she spent her summers conducting research at MBL in Woods Hole as a student, and later as a colleague, of Ernest Just.

Do marine biologists study sharks? ›

People who study sharks are commonly known as marine biologists, though they may also be known simply as researchers or scientists. These biologists track sharks and take measurements, note their maturity levels, and gather other information to expand knowledge of the fish and assist marine protection efforts.

Who is our national scientist that noted for his work in marine and aquatic biology? ›

Angel C. Alcala

What was Charles Darwin contribution to marine science? ›

Answer and Explanation:

Darwin's most famous contribution to oceanography by far was his theory of coral reef formation, where he described the progression of island fringing reefs to atolls.

What did Charles Darwin do for marine biology? ›

The interaction of marine biol- ogy and the intellect of Darwin was key to the develop- ment of his supreme contribution to biology – the mechanism of natural selection acting on natural varia- tion to explain the origin of species and the evolution of organisms.

What are 5 things marine biologist do? ›

Responsibilities
  • conducting species inventories, testing and monitoring sea creatures exposed to pollutants.
  • collecting samples and data-using processes such as coring techniques, geographic information systems (GIS), visual recording and sampling.
  • analysing samples in a lab and developing new research theories from them.

Why is marine biology important to society? ›

An estimated 80% of all life on earth is found under the ocean surface! Plants and animals act as indicators of the effect of human activities on the planet, including pollution and climate change. Marine biologists play a vital role in studying these effects.

What is a marine biologists main job? ›

Research projects are the main focus of marine biologists, which include collecting specimens at sea, compiling data, and undertaking laboratory-based experiments. Key areas of research include migration patterns, underwater photosynthesis and the impact of human activity on coral reefs.

Is there a lot of math in marine biology? ›

A lot of marine biologists use a huge amount of maths, and it's getting more mathematical all the time.”

Is it fun to be a marine biologist? ›

As a marine biologist, we get to study the ocean and all the animals and creatures that live in it. The most fun parts of my job are that I'm going to see something and learn something new every day and that I get to travel I get to meet wonderful people who are also excited about what we're doing.

How long does it take to become a marine biologist? ›

Marine biologists must complete at least a bachelor's degree, which takes about four years. Marine biologists who pursue master's degrees may take an additional two to three years to complete their education, and earning a PhD will take up to six years more.

How long have humans been studying the ocean? ›

Modern oceanography began as a field of science only a little less than 130 years ago, in the late 19th century, after Americans, British and Europeans launched a few expeditions to explore ocean currents, ocean life, and the seafloor off their coastlines.

What are some interesting facts about being a marine biologist? ›

Interesting Facts About Marine Biologists
  • They May Study Sharks -- and Debunk Myths. ...
  • Darwin Was an Early Marine Biologist. ...
  • For the Future, a Cool Underwater Laboratory. ...
  • They Unlock Medical Mysteries. ...
  • They Fight Alien Invasions Underseas. ...
  • They Always Experience Variety.
28 Dec 2018

Who is the father of Marine Science? ›

Because he is the first to record observations on marine life, Aristotle is often referred to as the father of marine biology.

Which country is best for marine biology? ›

Costa rica has been called one of the most “biologically intense” places on Earth by National Geographic. With over 500,000 species, this Central American country is home to 4% of all the species in the world. If you're looking for the best place to study marine biology, you may be looking for Costa Rica.

Why is Sylvia Earle famous? ›

National Geographic Explorer at Large Sylvia Earle, posing in a submersible on the docks of Monterey, California, is nicknamed "Her Deepness." Earle has logged in more than 7,000 hours underwater, and was instrumental in having Google Earth display ocean data.

What did Charles Darwin do for marine biology? ›

The interaction of marine biol- ogy and the intellect of Darwin was key to the develop- ment of his supreme contribution to biology – the mechanism of natural selection acting on natural varia- tion to explain the origin of species and the evolution of organisms.

How much does a marine biologist make? ›

An entry level marine biologist (1-3 years of experience) earns an average salary of $56,913. On the other end, a senior level marine biologist (8+ years of experience) earns an average salary of $98,644.

How long have humans been studying the ocean? ›

Modern oceanography began as a field of science only a little less than 130 years ago, in the late 19th century, after Americans, British and Europeans launched a few expeditions to explore ocean currents, ocean life, and the seafloor off their coastlines.

What are some interesting facts about being a marine biologist? ›

Interesting Facts About Marine Biologists
  • They May Study Sharks -- and Debunk Myths. ...
  • Darwin Was an Early Marine Biologist. ...
  • For the Future, a Cool Underwater Laboratory. ...
  • They Unlock Medical Mysteries. ...
  • They Fight Alien Invasions Underseas. ...
  • They Always Experience Variety.
28 Dec 2018

Does Harvard have marine biology? ›

Through a variety of laboratory, field, and model based studies Harvard faculty and students investigate unique aspects of the biology of marine organisms, and explore their relationships with the chemical and physical environment of the ocean, from the surface to the deep ocean floor and its sedimentary layers.

Is marine biology a good career? ›

Marine Biology is a great field of study. It provides a wide range of career opportunities. Marine biologists can find jobs in a variety of fields. They can work at colleges and universities as researchers, teachers, or administrators.

What animals did Sylvia Earle discover? ›

At Comoro Islands, off the southeast coast of Africa, she encountered sea turtles, parrotfish, sponges, and different types of coral. During one dive, she discovered a new bright pink plant they had never seen. Since Earle was the first to discover it, she got to name it.

What did Sylvia discover? ›

She was among the first underwater explorers to make use of modern self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) gear, and identified many new species of marine life. With her former husband, Graham Hawkes, Earle designed and built a submersible craft that could dive to unprecedented depths of 3,000 feet.

What are 3 interesting facts about Earle? ›

Throughout her career, Earle has authored more than 200 publications, lectured in more than 80 countries, and led more than 100 marine expeditions (totaling over 7,000 hours under water). She has received 27 honorary degrees and more than 100 honors from around the world.

How did Charles Darwin impact the world today? ›

Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882) transformed the way we understand the natural world with ideas that, in his day, were nothing short of revolutionary. He and his fellow pioneers in the field of biology gave us insight into the fantastic diversity of life on Earth and its origins, including our own as a species.

What is Charles Darwin known for? ›

What is Charles Darwin famous for? Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection is the foundation upon which modern evolutionary theory is built. The theory was outlined in Darwin's seminal work On the Origin of Species, published in 1859.

What did Charles Darwin discover? ›

Darwin occupies an exalted place in the history of Western thought, deservedly receiving credit for the theory of evolution. In The Origin of Species, published in 1859 (1), he laid out the evidence demonstrating the evolution of organisms.

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