Marine Biologist

South African oceans and coasts contain rich and diverse marine ecosystems and resources that provide food and livelihoods for local communities and supply key value chains. Marine biology involves studying all aspects of marine environments to understand and secure effective ecosystem functioning and the sustainable use of marine resources.

Marine biologists study the anatomy, physiology, functions, characteristics, behaviour and environments of all forms of life living in the sea and connected water bodies. They work directly with marine species, focussing on care and rehabilitation and also might focus on studying and analysing changes, reasons and ways to minimise impact on the marine environment.

Marine biologists primarily perform fieldwork in estuaries, along the coastline and in the ocean, observing, collecting, and analysing marine data. They also work in an office environment at times and sometimes also conduct studies in aquariums or laboratories.


Marine biologists require an extensive knowledge of the marine environment, including marine species, and will additionally benefit from: 

  • Analytical and logical problem-solving ability
  • Ability to conduct extensive and complex fieldwork and research
  • Knowledge of related policy and legislation 
  • Understand socio-economic dynamics with the marine environment 


Study the behaviour, genetics, origins and diseases of marine flora and fauna

Assess ecological effects and changes in the marine environment,

Investigate physical conditions such as salinity, temperature, acidity, light and oxygen content of ocean water

Conserve and rehabilitate marine environments and species


B.Sc., B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc. in Marine Biology at UCT and UKZN

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

Diploma, Advanced Diploma, M.Tech in Oceanography at CPUT


National, provincial and local government in coastal provinces.

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

Research institutions.

Aquariums, museums and zoos.

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