Aquatic scientists study the physical, chemical, biological and ecological aspects of inland and marine water environments.
There are several career possibilities that can be distinguished, namely:
Research: on various aspects of the water environment.
Administration: administrators in the public or other sectors related to the various activities concerned with water, for example water purification, water supply etc.
Teaching and Training: careers in the training of aquatic scientists.
Aquatic scientists study the following aspects of the water environment: physical aspects - temperature, available light and water movement; chemical aspects - the organic and inorganic composition of water, the importance and role of nutrients; biological aspects - the types, migration, distribution, behaviour, environmental requirements, etc. of the different types of plants, bacteria, algae and organisms associated with water; interrelated aspects - the relationship between the organisms and environments; and pollution aspects - the occurrence, intensity, treatment and control of different types of pollution that results in the death of fish, the colour, smell and taste of pure water that is affected by the excessive growth of certain organisms.
Other areas of study include: the management and potential for multipurpose utilization of inland and coastal waters such as the re-use of water for certain activities; and the cultivation of organisms for the manufacture of chemicals and for food, for example oyster-cultivation and the cultivation of shrimps and fish.
Aquatic scientists are also involved in the development of plans to ensure the ongoing health of aquatic ecosystems.
Working time is divided between research in the laboratory and field research in a water environment.
Depending on academic qualifications, aquatic scientists use advanced technology and various methods, such as biological monitoring, chemical analysis and computer models.
Aquatic scientists spend time in laboratories and in the field. The development of new methods and procedures forms an integral part of most of their projects.
- making exciting, new discoveries
- learning more about marine life
- working independently and in teams
- working both indoors and outdoors
- focusing or concentrating for long periods of time can be taxing
- seeing aquatic life die due to human negligence can be frustrating
- sometimes long periods away from home when doing field research
An aquatic scientist should:
- have a serious interest in the natural environment, particularly water environments
- have a scientific aptitude
- be a good observer and naturally inquisitive
- be able to work very accurately
- be responsible
- have conservationist attitude
- take initiative, patience and perseverance
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.
Compulsory Subjects: Physical Sciences, Mathematics
Recommended Subjects: Life Sciences
Degree: Various universities in South Africa offer training in Aquatic Science, as part of the Botany, Zoology and Ecology courses. The BSc degree takes three years to complete. NMMU and UKZN offer courses in Marine Biology, US in Animal Science with Aquaculture, UWC in Environmental and Water Science, UCT in Oceanography, CPUT in Marine Science, CUT in Hydrology and Water Resources and Water Care at TUT.
Postgraduate: Specialisation through postgraduate studies is recommended. Specialised interdisciplinary training in Aquatic Science is given at universities such as UCT, RU.
- Consulting firms
- Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
- Department of Water Affairs and Forestry
- CSIR and South African Navy
- Various water boards
Any of the above potential employers. See for example, the South African Navy website below
The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry
Institute for Water Research
Private Bag X313
Tel: (012) 336-8729 Fax: (012) 336-7817
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