Ocean Related JobsThe following are “classical” jobs that exist in the ocean. Today, there are many hybrids of these jobs, e.g. that of an ecologist, climatologist, biogeochemist, etc., that combine various disciplines.
A physical oceanographer studies the motion (waves, currents) of the sea, does numerical modelling, collects data at sea, publishes papers, studies the heat flux and volume transport of currents, impact of atmosphere on oceans and vice versa. University subjects: physical oceanography, physics, mathematics, meteorology.
A marine biologist studies the living creatures of the sea, like the marine fauna (fish, mammals, lobsters, plankton, etc) and flora (different types of sea weed). The person will collect data at sea using nets and other means (also diving), and classify living organisms in terms of taxonomy. The interaction between different animals in terms of the food chain, the response to external impacts (e.g. fishing, climate change), determine fishing quotas, save endangered species University subjects: (marine) zoology, botany, taxonomy, chemistry.
A marine chemist studies the chemistry of the sea, by collecting samples of the sediment or tissue at sea or on the beach, determine the chemical constituents in an analytical laboratory. The outcome will be used to determine the presence of pollutants like heavy metals carried to sea in residential and industrial effluent. flora (different types of sea weed). University subjects: chemistry (organic, inorganic). oceanography.
A marine geologist studies the structure of the sea bottom and the earth’s crust. Of interest would be the exploration of minerals on the sea bed, but also for oil and gas in the sub bottom strata. University subjects: geology, geomorphology.
Ocean related Job Descriptionsa few moments with the people…
Job title: Professor of Zoology
Employed/funded by: UCT
How long?: (Starting from beginning of MSc) Since the Dinosaurs were roaming ... 1965!
Why did you choose this career?: A passionate interest in animal life and the sea.
What led you to your initial choices and what circumstances led you to your current job/field of study? I came on holiday at the age of 15, discovered a new species of sea-spider (new, according to Frank Talbot, who was then in charge of marine science at the SA Museum), and got hooked!
What are one or two positive aspects of your job? Unending pleasure of working with postgraduate students. Continual excitement of communicating science.
What is something you would like to see change or be improved upon in your field in South Africa and/or iternationally? A few years knocked off my age? Greater cohesion at MCM between scientists and managers? A more dynamic role by SANCOR: it should go far beyond having a liaison function? An integrated cross-institutional MSc for marine management? More acceptance of responsibility among fishers?
What is one piece of advice you would like to give to a young person aspiring to follow in your footsteps? If you have a passion, follow it. Life’s too short to drink cheap red wine when you can suck up the fullness of life.
Prof John Field
Posistion/career/job title: Professor Employed/funded by: UCT (retired)
How long?: (Starting from beginning of MSc) A lifetime.
Why did you choose this career?: Love of the sea.
What led you to your initial choices and what circumstances led you to your current job/field of study? I was planning to major in Physics and Chemistry, and did Zoology as an extra in first year because the Prof was a marine biologist. I liked it so much that I changed to major in Zoology and Chemistry. After Hons I was offered a job as a research assistant while I did my PhD. What are one or two positive aspects of your job? I like the variety of an academic career (teaching and research, and changing topics) and the opportunity of change through sabbaticals overseas.
What is something you would like to see change or be improved upon in your field in south africa and/or internationally? A broader based training in all aspects of marine science.
What is one piece of advice or tip you would like to give to a young person aspiring to follow in your footsteps? Put your heart into what you do and don't plan your career too far ahead, but take advantage of opportunities that come your way.
Warren Ryan Joubert
Full name: Warren Ryan Joubert (pictured with his wife Brigitta)
Job title: Researcher in Marine Chemistry and also a Ph.D student in Oceanography Employed/funded by: CSIR.
How long?: MSC commenced in 2004 Why did you choose this career?: Partly curiosity, partly opportunities.
What led you to your initial choices and what circumstances led you to your current job/field of study? Having an enquiring attitude (curiosity) regarding how stuff works made me choose to pursue science at tertiary level, with chemistry as a focus. Also studying hard to secure a bursary from CSIR for my undergraduate studies.
What are one or two positive aspects of your job? Using state-of-the-art technology to answer questions about the oceans’ role in interacting with the atmosphere. Going to sea on international research campaigns to interrogate the ocean. Also interacting with colleagues globally.
What is something you would like to see change or be improved upon in your field in south africa and/or iternationally? That sufficient opportunities are created for young people, including proper mentors, to pursue a career in science.
What is one piece of advice you would like to give to a young person aspiring to follow in your footsteps?Whatever direction they pursue, hard work and effort will surely be rewarded.
Dr. Sandy Thomalla
Full name: Dr. Sandy Thomalla
Job title: BioGeo Chemist Employed/funded by: CSIR.
How long?: 10 years.
Why did you choose this career?: Originally interested in marine biology, but in order to understand t he biology you have to get involved with the physics and the chemistry of the sea and so it began... I also love going to sea and the relevance of my work within our daily lives.
What led you to your initial choices and what circumstances led you to your current job/field of study? See above.
What are one or two positive aspects of your job? Going to sea and addressing large scale physical, chemical, and biological processes.
What is something you would like to see change or be improved upon in your field in south africa and/or iternationally? Greater interaction between various groups in oceanography in order to address and answer the system scale questions.
What is one piece of advice you would like to give to a young person aspiring to follow in your footsteps? Speak to people in whatever field you are pursuing , look at what research opportunities are available and APPLY!
Nicholas Christopher Moyo
Full name: Nicholas Christopher Moyo
Job title: UCT Oceanography Department M Sc in Applied Marine Science and Earth Systems Science 2009 Employed/funded by: NRF & POGO.
How long?: 1 year.
Why did you choose this career?: Quite interesting to learn how the oceans and the atmosphere works and their influence on our every day activities.
What led you to your initial choices and what circumstances led you to your current Job/field of study? I am an Agrometeorologist by training and I wanted to expand my knowledge on ocean dynamics.
What are one or two positive aspects of your job? It is diverse and therefore it is applicable across my fields of study.
What is something you would like to see Change or be improved upon in your field in South Africa and/or iternationally? To have more people from different disciplines studying Marine and Earth systems Science.
What is one piece of advice you would like to Give to a young person aspiring to follow in Your footsteps? Having science and maths as priority subjects at a tender age is the key to all scientific fields.
Dr Isabelle Ansorge
Full name: Dr Isabelle Ansorge
Job title: Senior Lecturer (from 1st Jan 2010) in the Oceanography Dept. UCT.
How long?: position since 2006, MSC 1996, PhD 2000 research associate 2001 – 2005.
Why did you choose this career?: Love the sea! and especially the wild stormy Southern Ocean. In 1983 I spent 6 months on a sail training tall ship sailing from England to India and across the Indian Ocean to Cape Town - that experience sold me for life!
What led you to your initial choices and what circumstances led you to your current job/field of study? See above
What are one or two positive aspects of your job? Love lecturing and going to sea - students keep me young!
What is something you would like to see change or be improved upon in your field in south Africa and/or internationally? More women in ocean sciences, more funding and better equipment! but I think we are all doing a good job here in SA!
What is one piece of advice you would like to give to a young person aspiring to follow in your footsteps? Don't get too stuck behind an office desk - make sure as an oceanographer or oceanography student you get your hands wet at least once a year!! .
Dr Mathieu Rouault
Mathieu Rouault is a Principal Research officer, Oceanographer, Meteorologist and Climatologist. He is employed by UCT and is also self-funded by grants and proposals that he submits to various agencies. He has been working in this field for 25 years.
Why this particular career path? “I love the ocean and wanted to have a job related
to the ocean. It worked”.
And being from France, why did you choose South Africa? “It was the end of apartheid and I wanted to do something useful for the new South Africa. Also I had heard the surf was good...”
Positive aspects of the job? “It's useful to society and very interesting. Also you meet and work with interesting people from all around the world”.
Something you would like to see change? “I wish many of my colleagues were less selfish and ego driven”.
Advice for aspiring Oceanographers? “Visit and talk to professionals in the field you want to be in. We always have time for motivated young persons”.
And she rock climbs too!!!!
Janine Basson is a Programme Officer in the Fisher and Consumer Outreach
department with WWF South Africa.
Her work and University history?: I worked for the Namibian Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) for 5 years (from 2003 to beginning 2009) after completing my Honours at UCT, during which time I completed my MSc part-time and through UCT as well. I started with WWF SA on the 12th of May this year (2009).
Why this particular career path? I kind of fell into marine science. I happened to be good at maths, physics, chemistry and biology. I was also good at art and singing, but thought that could be my back up plan. I started at UCT doing a double major in oceanography and zoology, with no interest whatsoever in Marine Biology. I was interested in more creative things, like drawing and singing … I don’t really know why I never went into theatre. My path to conservation was never an active one but, now that I find myself here, I realise that this is where my path was meant to lead; my interest is really peaked and has become focussed on the application of research to bettering people’s livelihoods.
When I started realising where my real interest lay, I looked into doing my masters. And the rest, as they say, is history! When I completed my honours, I had a huge study loan to pay off and no interest in studying further whatsoever. While employed at the Namibian Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources and as part of a BCLME (Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem) project, I became involved in a Birdlife and WWF South Africa project as the Namibian coordinator. The project was aimed at assessing the bycatch of Seabirds, Turtles and Sharks in longline operations in the Benguela Large Current Marine Ecosystem. This was markedly the first marine conservation project I was involved in and certainly the one that helped me grow the most.
Advice for young folks who want to follow in your footsteps? I would advise them to study hard and always try to keep in mind where what you are studying fits into the bigger picture of conservation. Read up on as much extra material as you can, learn as much as you can of what is happening in the rest of the world, and get an idea of why you are studying, where you want to end up. And keep this goal firmly in mind.
To meet other interesting people working in your local ocean environment follow this link http://act.rsmas.miami.edu/