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Science that deals with the animals and plants of the sea and estuaries and with airborne and terrestrial organisms that depend directly on bodies of saltwater for food and other necessities. Marine biologists study the relations between ocean phenomena and the distribution and adaptations of organisms. Of particular interest are adaptations to the chemical and physical properties of seawater, the movements and currents of the ocean, the availability of light at various depths, and the composition of the sea floor. Other important areas of study are marine food chains, the distribution of economically important fish and crustaceans, and the effects of pollution. In the later 19th century, the emphasis was on collecting and cataloging marine organisms, for which special nets, dredges, and trawls were developed. In the 20th century, improved diving equipment, submersible craft, and underwater cameras and television have made direct observation possible.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on marine biology, visit Britannica.com.
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