Oceanography offers exciting career prospects
By Gaopalelwe Moroane OCEANOGRAPHY or the study of the oceans, offers those with an interest in science, maths and the sea an opportunity to improve our planet through protecting our oceans. Mthuthuzeli Gulekana has been an oceanographer for 13 years and with the Department of Environmental Affairs’ Oceans and Coasts for 9 years.
He continuously collects, analyses and interprets data and information in the marine environment in order to monitor and understand how the environment behaves.
The objective is to be able to forecast the patterns and behaviour of the oceans (just as the forecast the daily weather) in order to saves lives and property.
“The results of our research are further presented at various platforms to create awareness and as scientific advice towards certain guidelines, acts and policies.
“To keep up-to-date with the latest discoveries, one needs to attend various forums, conferences, seminars and symposia to present your work and share information and ideas of further developing new methodologies,” he explains..
“However, as a government department, we conduct applied research, that is, research that is directed at solving societal problems, such as ensuring that the people know about ocean currents, tides and the quality of seawater in their areas.
“We also seek to understand the role of oceans in climate change and how the oceans regulate global climate and weather patterns.
“The most rewarding part for any oceanographer is knowing that your work is consistently being used to advance life and it is used as input in socio-economic decisions.
“Furthermore, the information and knowledge we generate helps to create awareness about the various services that the marine environment provides and to encourage sustainable use of the marine environment.
“Ultimately, we exist to research, gather and distribute relevant information in order to save lives and property,” concludes Gulekana.
To become an oceanographer, one needs a Matric pass in mathematics, natural sciences and biological sciences. One would then look for a tertiary institution offering marine sciences.
Furthermore, to be a practising oceanographer, one needs to enrol as a member of the South African Council for Natural Scientific Profession.
Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa with oceanographer Mthuthuzeli Gulekana.