A Day In The Life Of A Marine Biologist

Lea Humphrey and Brook Wheatly
Department of Environmental and Natural Resources
Teen Coastal Science cafe


dsc_2381At the Cafe, Brook and Lea explained what a day as a marine biologist in the Protected Resource Section of the Division of Marine Fisheries in the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources is like in and out of the field. They also explained how they got to be where they’re at now by telling us what schools they attended, the volunteer work they did, their internships, and their prior job experiences. They explained to us some of the things we need to do in order to become a marine biologist ourselves. Brook and Lea were very friendly people and spoke to us like we were good friends in spite of not having any prior connections with us. The coolest thing about this Cafe was knowing that the presenters work very close to where we live, and also learning about all of the many experiences you get to have being a marine biologist.

What Is “DMF?”

The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) is responsible for the stewardship of the state’s marine and estuarine resources. The division’s jurisdiction encompasses all coastal waters and extends to 3 miles offshore. Agency policies are established by the 9-member Marine Fisheries Commission and the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality. North Carolina is a member of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.

The Division of Marine Fisheries is comprised of nine sections that collectively carry out this mandate. The Division of Marine Fisheries can trace its roots back as early as 1822, when the North Carolina General Assembly enacted legislation to impose gear restrictions on oyster harvest. That was later followed by separate fish and shellfish commissions, which were combined in 1915 to form a commercial regulatory body. In 1965, the scope of the commission was expanded to include regulatory authority over recreational fishing activities in coastal waters.

Behind North Carolina’s fragile strand of barrier islands lie shallow waters where the land and sea gradually merge forming estuaries, brackish swamps and mud flats that serve as nursery areas for shrimp, crabs, finfish and shellfish. Traditionally ranked in the top-10 seafood producing states, North Carolina has over 4,000 miles of shoreline and 2.5 million acres of marine and estuarine waters. Latest estimates show that 4,000 full-time commercial fishermen and 2 million recreational anglers enjoy the bounty of the state’s marine resources.

Mission – The Division of Marine Fisheries is dedicated to ensuring sustainable marine and estuarine fisheries and habitats for the benefit and health of the people of North Carolina.

To meet this mission, the Division of Marine Fisheries is organized into nine sections that report to a Deputy Director, Dee Lupton, and a Director, Braxton Davis. The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Fisheries programs are administered for the benefit of all North Carolina residents without prejudice towards age, sex, race, religion or national origin. Violations of this pledge may be reported to the Equal Employment Officer, EEO/Foreign National Program, Administrative Services, 1601 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-1601; or call 919-715-7094.

Find out more about division sections

Hands on Activity

Brook and Lea, when the presentation was over, allowed us to come up to their table and look at the instruments they use in the field. They also showed us how each instrument works and told us exactly what they do with each one. We got to see a simulation of how they tag sea turtles when they find one trapped in a gill net while doing their job. All of this was very exciting.