What’s the Difference Between Studying Marine Science and Marine Biology?

Marine Science and Marine Biology might sound like they’re similar, but they’re actually quite different.

So, what’s the difference between Marine Science and Marine Biology?

Marine Science

A Marine Science degree is very focused on the science of the sea. To put it simply, it’s about the study of physics, chemistry, geology and biology under the sea and ocean.

You can expect to learn things like oceanography, physical oceanography which is a complicated way of saying the tides and waves, chemical oceanography which is about the properties of water like the salt content, geological oceanography where you learn about the sea floor, ocean ridges and hydrothermal vents.

Besides the natural stuff, the degree might also cover engineering related topics on underwater technology.

You’ll have subjects on marine biology and biodiversity (it’s still a marine science after all), but it won’t be the main focus.

Marine Biology

On the other hand, Marine Biology will focus on the flora and fauna of the ocean and sea and other saltwater environments including estuaries and wetlands like mangroves swamps.

You can also expect to learn things like the anatomy, physiology, behaviour, diversity and evolution of marine organisms which are not just limited to the cool pelagic fish and big marine mammals like dolphins or whales. You could be learning about gastropods like sea snails and bi-valves like mussels, oysters or clams for example.

You will probably also learn about ecology which is the study of how all the organisms are linked and interact to each other in the marine environment which could help with conservation efforts.

scuba shark

So if you’re more interested in swimming or diving with the fishes or marine mammals, this is actually what you’re looking for.

Regardless of which you’re really interested in, it’s important to note that marine science and marine biology degrees are typically going to be quite focused as compared to a general science degrees and you will have fewer (if any) electives to choose from.