Oceanography can be described as an interdisciplinary science, and it emerged as an established academic field only during the last few decades. The discipline entails the study of physical and chemical properties of ocean water and the ocean surface, the wave patterns, biological processes, species and their relationships in the ocean. Thus, the scientists who are involved in these studies, the oceanographers, would have to specialize in different sub-domains and would be having different academic backgrounds from one another. Therefore, if a person wants to become an oceanographer, they should first decide on which type of oceanography would best fit their profile.
With the growing threat of ocean pollution, the usefulness of chemical oceanographers has been recognized in the recent past. The main task expected of such scientists is to analyze the physical properties of the ocean water including its salt and other mineral compositions. They also analyze the chemical composition of the seawater in order to determine the level of pollution. They tend to spend most of their working hours in the lab and therefore the skills that are required of such scientists would mostly be in relation to operating laboratory equipment, analyzing computational data, devising scientific methods to extract chemical compounds from seawater.
Among the oceanographers, the ones who study the ocean floor, its formation, the sedimentary patters and underwater volcanic activities are the geological oceanographers. These scientists have to spend equal amounts of time on boats as well as in the lab. Therefore, the set of skills required by a geological oceanographer would be broader and would include areas such as geology, chemistry and marine sciences. The work that they do would help humankind to understand the interactions between the ocean and the ocean floor as well as in understanding the Earth’s history. In addition, the studies done by geological oceanographers with regard to the ocean floor would enable drafting detailed maps pertaining to specific areas of the ocean, which remains unexplored even at present.
Biological oceanographers spend most of their time under water as they observe the behavioral patterns between the sea animals and the plants. The work undertaken by biological oceanographers enables the scientific community to recognize different habitats, the evolution process of marine animals and plants as well as to develop aquatic methods. Assessing the impact of pollution over marine habitats is another important task assigned to biological oceanographers. In most instances, these scientists would be able to warn of the potential dangers of certain activities that are carried out by humans in the name of development and science. In order to perform these tasks, biological oceanographers would require a sound background in zoology, biology, chemistry and other related fields.
Physical oceanography can be related to the science of meteorology and the main tasks assigned to these scientists involve the study of waves, currents and tides as well as the interaction between these phenomena with other atmospheric changes. Physical oceanography would require setting up devices to measure readings at various locations on the sea surface and at times gauging the temperature, pressure and other properties in order to assess the physical nature of a certain location in the sea. It is also a field that would require strong mathematical and scientific skill in order to provide accurate information.
In addition to these four major types of oceanography, many other sub-domains aid the science of oceanography to evolve as one of the most attractive scientific fields in the world.