Aquatic Biologist

Well-functioning catchments, made up of rivers, wetlands, estuaries, springs and aquifers are critical in supplying enough, good quality freshwater to support ecological functioning, the needs of the economy, for example in production and manufacturing and human wellbeing. Understanding aquatic biology, freshwater quantity and quality and ecosystem functioning and impacts can inform strategies to ensure future water security.

Aquatic biologists study the ecology and living organisms in freshwater. They monitor the health of water by examining biological indicators such as micro- and macroinvertebrates as well as the physical conditions of water such as salinity, temperature and oxygen content. Aquatic biologists also monitor and report on pollution levels and its impact on water quality.

Aquatic biologists work mostly in the field collecting samples and monitoring water quality as well as run tests and develop computer models in laboratories. They are likely to collaborate with all stakeholders in catchments, for example local communities and policymakers, addressing water quality challenges and opportunities.


Aquatic biologists must have an extensive knowledge of freshwater ecology, and biological species in freshwater systems. They will further benefit from:

  • Ability to conduct extensive and complex fieldwork
  • Strong research and analytical competence
  • Excellent laboratory processing skills
  • Good verbal and written communication and presentation skills


Research aspects of plant and animal life in water and the interrelated environmental conditions

Conduct field research, collect samples and make observations of the health and behaviour of plant and animal organisms 

Analyse data and write reports on research findings

Liaise with stakeholders, conferring reported findings


B.Sc., B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc. in Biological Sciences specialising in Botany or Zoology at all universities

B.Sc., B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc. in Biodiversity and Conservation Biology or Environmental Water Sciences at UWC


National, provincial and local government.

NGOs, community-based and development organisations and private consultancies.

Research institutions.

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