Marine Biology Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Lauren Scott

Lauren has a Master's degree in special education and has taught for more than 10 years.

This lesson will teach about the field of marine biology. You will learn about some of the cool things marine biologists study and how that information can be used to understand ocean habitats.

What is Marine Biology?

Have you ever wished you could spend your days under the sea, swimming with the fish and the whales…or being a fish or a whale? If so, then you probably have an interest in marine biology, which is the study of living things in the ocean. It's a subject that covers a lot of ground, err, water, so get your snorkel and dive on in!

The word marine refers to saltwater environments, so marine biology does not cover life in lakes and rivers. A marine biologist can study anything that lives in oceans or wetlands, or in other places where freshwater and saltwater mix. They make discoveries about everything from tiny bacteria to the largest whales.

Larger Life

When kids say they want to be marine biologists, most of them dream of working with larger sea life like fish, sea turtles, and marine mammals. There's a lot to learn about these critters! You can find out where fish live, how many sharks inhabit an area, or how well dolphins hear under water. Marine biologists look for these larger animals in all kinds of places, from the shallow coasts to the deepest sea trenches. They may also work in laboratories or aquariums so they can study the animals more closely.

Marine biology includes the study of larger animals, like this shark.

The Small Stuff

You may not see them, but the ocean is full of tiny living things! You need a microscope or a magnifying glass to find smaller animals, plants, and plant-like algae that float around in the sea. These tiny floaters are called plankton, and they are extremely important in marine biology. They make up the base of the ocean food chain because they are a food source for so many animals.

Studying plankton helps marine biologists to figure out which fish or marine mammals might be in an area. After all, many whales eat nothing but plankton. It also helps scientists determine if part of the ocean is healthy, since too much or too little algae can be a sign that the ocean is out of balance. Plankton can also be studied in the ocean, in laboratories, or in aquariums.

Tiny plankton form the base of the food chain.

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