A fish biologist studies and monitors fish populations in natural settings such as fisheries and lakes, as well as farms and aquariums. Depending on the type of research a fish biologist conducts, a career in this field may also include lab work. Fish biologists are employed a variety of private companies, government agencies, and academic institutions, providing a wide range of opportunities for people interested in this field of science. To begin applying for jobs of this nature, you must typically have at least a bachelor’s degree.
A fish biologist’s job description may include counting and monitoring wild fish populations in areas where their health is a concern. This may entail accompanying fishing boats out on the water to observe fishing practices, collect samples, and observe crews for signs of illegal fishing. The biologist can also conduct water quality studies, botany surveys, and other research to learn more about how fish interact with their environment and to spot potential problems.
Fish biologists may be called in to help with a problem like a fish kill, a sudden decline in a fishery, or a drastic change in the natural environment. They can conduct research to learn more about the cause of the event and its impact on fish and other organism populations. This could include assisting environmental officials in resolving a problem and developing recommendations to prevent future incidents. A fish kill, for example, could be the result of a manufacturing plant’s release of chemicals, necessitating the tightening of pollution control protocols.
Fish biologists are needed in aquaculture facilities that raise fish for food and other purposes. They can create the necessary facilities and procedures for handling the fish, as well as monitor population health. A fish biologist can work with rare and important specimens in aquarium settings to keep them healthy for observation and study. Public outreach and education at museum facilities, where members of the public can learn about fish through demonstrations and workshops, may also be part of the project.
Responsibilities can be wide-ranging, involving everything from necropsies on dead fish to chemical analysis of water samples. Continuing education may be required to stay current in the field, depending on where a fish biologist works. To be considered for promotions and tenured positions, it may also be necessary to publish papers, present at conferences, and show other evidence of professional development.