Gear Guide for your first field-job as a Marine Biologist
Updated: May 10
Field-work as a Marine Biologist or as a Dive Master can often take us to far away exotic locations. These idealistic locations may be a normal-persons vacation, but if you are going there to work, you need to BE PREPARED! It’s possible that you could be isolated for prolonged periods of time, likely not have access to “shops” or online-shopping and be required to be fully self-sufficient.
I have compiled a list of items you should “consider” before you embark on your journey to save the planet. Make sure you can save yourself first!
Dive Master Research Internship with Indo Ocean Project, Nusa Penida. @lil_palm
I get very cold always, regardless of the sea temperature. And because I spend many hours in the water, it chills me to the bone, even if the water is 28-29 degrees! So I always use a wetsuit for diving and something a little less for snorkelling. But you be the judge as it depends on: how cold you usually get, your location, and your duties on and in the water.
3mm Probe iDRY Quick Dry full length. THE BEST.
As many layers as I can physically still function in!!!!
Maybe between 3-5 pairs of bikini that are comfortable and don’t flash your boobies. I usually go for the bargain bins at surf shops because I go through so many pairs and I’m a cheapo’. Obviously not going for fashion with my mis-matching “wear them until they die” style. But there are heaps of Eco options these days. One I can personally recommend is Ningaloo Swimwear.
1 one-piece if you think it’d be more culturally appropriate to cover up your tum tum.
If you’re not required to take the whole set-up, this is what I recommend as the bare minimum.
I have a Ocean Hunter Phantom. It’s a soft fit around my narrow face. I love it.
I use Aqua Lung - Express with foot pockets (no need for booties). They are light-weight for travel, really comfy and stiff enough for diving in current.
If you’re doing mostly freediving/snorkeling consider freediving fins. I have Rob Allen Scorpia & they are superb! Practical for guiding snorkelling, u/w photog and freediving. But shit for diving as they are too soft.
I have a Geo 2 - it’s a cheaper option, but still really good. Self changeable battery and not humungous on my little wrist.
Safety Marker Buoy, reel & Caribbeana clip
A necessary item for all marine biologists!
This is at a minimum, everything else you can usually borrow. After many years of borrowing, I finally have my own BCD & regs. The dream!
LAPTOP (Mac book Air all-the-way!)
PROGRAMS I have that are very useful:
Lightroom - photo editing
Microsoft - word, excel, powerpoint
DropBox - with paid subscription
Apparently there are these Samsung t5 portable ssd t5-1T . They don’t seem to be as fragile as normal harddrives. I am going to buy one of these on my next trip home.
USB/ pen drives. Just makes moving things around between devices more convenient.
This all depends on personal preference, budget, job requirements etc.
I bought a second-hand set-up. Firstly I had no idea which individual parts to buy. Secondly, a brand new set up is EXPENSIVE.
I have a Sony A7R with a FE16-35mm lens and NA-A7 Nauticam housing. Brilliant for mega-fauna, macro not so much.
LAUNDRY BASKET to carry it around in.
This will protect it on the boat, convenience for moving it around and it’s more inconspicuous than carrying around a big heavy expensive camera. Everyone just thinks I have lots of laundry, I can live with that.
My job required me to have an u/w camera so I can get the IDs of mantas. A better camera = better quality images = less investigative work for me in the office. That was my logic. Plus, I’m living on an island with not much else to do, so with my spare time I am learning u/w photog, editing, etc. Thanks to the help of friends and a lot of mistakes, I am learning!
SPARE CAMERA BATTERY
I have 4. But as my pro photog mates tell me, I should be clearing & formatting them after every use. I don’t do this. Sshh don’t tell them. But I’m getting better at organising my memory cards!
Great for video and as a back up camera. This is if you have the capacity, space, money, already own one. They are a great extra/spare.
This is one of my favourite items I own. It helps with seeing the itsy bitsy bits when assembling/checking my camera. Especially when a grain of sand or hair could cause a leak in an expensive u/w camera!
Remember: UV protection, warmth and culturally appropriate clothing.
Consider - long pants, long-sleeve shirt, scarf for wrap around protection.
Rain jacket - always bring a rain jacket. Even if it’s not wet-season, it is good when you’re wet working on boats to stay warm from the wind.
Consider if you’re in and out of the water all the time, the products you put on your skin ultimately wash off into the ocean.
I try to use natural products, better for me, better for the sea!
Natural zinc - Surfyogis is my fav. Sticks on for surf & snork adventures.
Invisible Zinc- Tinted Daywear SPF30 - not totally natural, but its free of titanium dioxide & parabens
Sukin shampoo, conditioner, body wash and moisturiser
Jojoba oil - face rehydration for dry sun-drenched salty skin
Hat - I wear a peak hat which doesn't fly off my head on a windy day on the boat
Dry bag - life saver on the boats
Drink bottle - number 2 lifesaver for life in general
Writing book for office work, notes and journal
Antiseptic ointment, soov cream, gauze swabs & fixomull stretch . This magic combination has saved me again and again! Being in the tropical sea all the time with a wound is a deadly duo.
If the wound goes past being able to be saved by fixomull (or it’s an internal infection) then apply antibiotic cream.
Vitamins - multi vit & echinacea
Hopefully with this list plus your own fantastic ideas, you will be fully prepared to take on the water with your new job! Goodluck!
Pics: @lil_palm @oceanwildly