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What They Do

Insider Info

Basically, botanists are biologists who work with plants. Marine botanists work with plants that live in water.

Marine botanists in Canada and the U.S. work in academic institutions, government, industry or aquariums. They can also be the owners of their own businesses.

According to marine botanist Louis Druehl, people in the field work with saltwater plants, although one subsection studies freshwater algae.

Druehl says marine botanists employed as academics conduct research into algae, kelp and other underwater plants. They also deliver lectures to students and perform administrative tasks for the department. Marine botanists employed in industry or government conduct research, lead educational activities and provide consultations.

Self-employed marine botanists may produce and market a product or provide consultation services.

"Marine biology is a broad field, and there are many types of jobs that would fit into the category -- anything from technical support staff to research associates to professors to teachers," says Cynthia A. Moncreiff, a marine biologist.

Trends occurring in marine botany include an emphasis on the many uses of seaweed (kelp) in industry, in pharmaceuticals and as food for sea urchins and abalone. "We are researching the use of seaweed in the manufacturing of unique chemicals, [for example] kelp plastics and various pharmaceutical compounds," says Druehl.

"Potentially, there are many uses for kelp products and kelp compounds -- such as in industrial chemicals, toothpaste, yogurts and salad dressings. What's more, research is beginning to show that kelp compounds have many uses in the pharmaceutical industry."

At a Glance

Study plants in the marine environment

  • You may work for academic institutions, government, industry or aquariums
  • Self-employed marine botanists may produce and market a product or provide consultation services
  • You'll need a master's degree or a PhD