Study Marine Biology from Home

Develop a knowledge of marine life and ecology, whether for work or general interest. Learn about marine environments (weather, nutrient cycle, reefs, shallow and deep water environments, etc) marine animals, particularly more complex animals (e.g. fish, mammals), and also human impacts upon marine environments.


Learn about the sea;  marine life and ecology

A great course to enhance career prospects for many professions including:

  • Aquarium and zoo staff
  • Divers and dive industry staff
  • Research Scientists
  • Tourism Officers
  • Environmental Managers
  • Environmental Assessors
  • Fishermen
  • Marine Conservation Officers
  • Anyone in the marine industry



This course has 9 lessons as follows:

  1. Marine Ecology Systems
    Ecology; Marine Weather (including El Nino, Thermocline, Gulf streams, etc), Continental shelf, Nutrient cycle, Red tide, Plankton, Marine Plants (including Mangroves, Shallow & Deep water algae, etc)
  2. Shallow Waters & Reefs
    Coral Reefs, Rocky Shorelines, Estuaries, Introduction to marine arthropods
  3. Shellfish & Crustaceans
    Molluscs and Brachiopods. True Crabs, Hermit Crabs, Lobsters, Prawns etc
  4. Squid, Octopus, and Other Primitive Animals
    (Cephalopods and Clupeoids, etc)
  5. Fish Part A
    (Cartilaginous Fish) Sharks, Eels, Rays; Shark Life cycle, How dangerous are sharks? Effect of sharks on tourism, etc.
  6. Fish Part B
    (Bony Fish) Fish Anatomy/structure (identifying external & internal parts); legalities (protection of wildlife), types of fish, etc
  7. Marine Mammals
    (Dolphins, Whales, etc) Types of marine mammals, protection and politics, position of these animals in the food chain, products derived from marine mammals & substitutes for those products.
  8. Turtles, Sea Snakes and Seabirds
    Types of turtles & sea snakes; toxicity of sea snakes; turtle protection, penguins and other sea birds (eg stints, knots, pelicans, swans, gulls, eagles, ibis, egrets, terns, shearwaters, gannets, albatross, prions, oyster-catchers and petrels).
  9. Human Impact on Marine Environments & Fishing
    Human impact on marine environments; commercial vs recreational fishing, significance of certain mesopelagic fish, techniques for managing stocks of fish & other marine life.


Course Duration: 100 hours



  • ensure your skills are up to date, by pursuing further marine studies or attending professional development activities.
  • Keep up to date with what's happening in the field of Marine Biology. What are the most pressing issues and where is there likely to be more work? Look into work in the Tourism Industry.
  • Join a networking group to meet people who are working in the field of Marine Biology.
  • Get some work experience. Whether paid or unpaid, experience will always make your CV look more impressive and give you some practical knowledge to apply in your interview.


Do You Know What a Pinniped is?

The term “pinniped” is latin for “wing” or “fin” foot. This refers to the flippers found on pinnipeds such as walruses, eared seals and earless seals. Pinnipeds have a sleek, barrel-shaped body designed adapted to an aquatic lifestyle. 

Walrus (Family Odobenidae)

This family contains only a single living species, Odobenus rosmarus. Walruses are distributed throughout the Arctic Ocean and northern parts of Pacific Ocean.  Males are very large, up to 3.6m, weight of up to 2 tonnes. Females are smaller, weighing less than half that of males. Body is bulky and heavy. Like true seals, they lack external ears. Like eared seals, they can turn hind flippers forward and use them for walking and running while on land. They have large paddle-like forelimbs that reach about 25% of length of the body.  The skin is wrinkled, very thick, with underlying blubber of up to 15 cm in thickness.

True Seals and Fur Seals

Seals can be divided into two families Otariidae which the fur seals and sea lions, and Phocidae, the true seals (such as the Leopard Seal).

Seals are carnivores and they exist on a varied diet of pilchards, anchovies, mackerel, squid and the occasional lobster.  Some species such as the leopard seal are voracious predators and will feed on penguins and other seals. 

Family Phocidae (True Seals) 
True seals vary greatly in size. The smallest species are Baikal Seal with 35 Kg and the Ringed Seal with a weight of around 90Kg; the largest one is the Elephant Seal Mirounga leonine, that weight up to 5 tonne. As with most fast swimmers, bodies are streamlined. External ears are absent. Forelimbs are relatively short, less than 25% of the length of the body. 

Claws are well developed. The large hind flippers cannot turn forward and are not used for movement. Seals are unable to walk or run on land. Instead, they flex and slide on their belly, but move relatively quickly.

Adults usually have stiff and short fur; some species have almost naked skin. Some have spotted or banded colour patterns. Most young are covered with dense and soft fur with a thick layer of blubber beneath the skin for insulation in freezing conditions. The weight of the blubber may be around 25% of the entire weight of the animal in some species.
Seals mostly feed on fish and molluscs (squid, octopus, and shellfish). Ironically named, the Crabeater Seal Lobodon carcinofagus mainly feeds on krill, being the only plankton-eating member of the entire order. The largest of Antarctic species, Leopard Seal Hydrurga leptonyx feeds on penguins and smaller seals. Most species are monogamous or associate in small groups. Elephant seals are gregarious and polygamous. Some species are migratory. All seals are expert divers, although their abilities vary from species to species. Weddell seal Leptonychotes weddelli is recorded to reach depths of 600m and to stay submerged for 43 minutes and 20 seconds.

Some of the better-known seal species include:
Lobodon carcinophagus (Crabeater Seals)
Hydrurga leptonyx  (Leopard Seals)
Ommatophoca rossii  (Ross Seals)
Leptonychotes weddellii (Weddell Seals)

Family Otariidae (Eared Seals)
Unlike other Pinnipeds, Otariidae have external ear flaps, although small and cartilaginous.  Like walrus, Otariidae can turn the hind flippers forward and use them for walking or running on land. Members of this family swim mostly using forelimbs. Sea lions have a coat of short, coarse fur. Fur seals have very thick underfur and are hunted as fur animals.

Neophoca cinerea (Australian Sea Lion) 
Arctocephalus pusillus (Australian Fur Seal)
Arctocephalus forsteri (New Zealand Fur Seal)





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