Now that we've defined what it is that we are studying (oceanography) and now that we have license to call ourselves oceanographers, let's get down to the real depths of the matter.
What is this science of oceanography all about?
One possible answer is that oceanography is about any subject that you can think of.
Consider this: Among the common fields of study associated with oceanography (in no particular order) are physics, chemistry, biochemistry, geology, geophysics, geochemistry, biogeochemistry, geography, biogeography, meteorology, climatology, biology, marine biology, ecology, marine ecology, benthic ecology, systems ecology, evolutionary biology, zoology, archaeology, marine archaeology, paleontology, cultural anthropology, hydrological optics, bio-optics, hydrodynamics, hydrology, agriculture, aquaculture, mathematics, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, aeronautical engineering, chemical engineering, architecture, marine architecture, cosmology, law and lots more.
The connections between these subjects and oceanography should be pretty apparent but I don't stop there. In the same way that all of us know someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows Kevin Bacon (i.e. the concept known as six degrees of separation), oceanography has relevance to many topics not commonly associated with the oceans, such as acting, forensics, commerce, business, international business, cosmetology, automobile repair, religion, philosophy, art, music, literature, cinema, social studies, poetry, physical education and many more.
Can you think of a human endeavor related to oceanography that is not on this list?
Now I'm sure that my inspired ocean colleagues would take exception to the idea that oceanography includes everything under the sun and sea, but I would challenge them (and anyone else) to name a human pursuit that is not in some way connected to the ocean. Hair styles? The humidity and salt air can affect that new perm. Religion? Moses parted the Red Sea. Social studies? Surf culture. Phys ed? Swimming.
Need I go on?
The point is that there's a whole world of fascinating things to be discovered about the ocean. You are only limited by your imagination. So the next time you start to say that oceanography has nothing to do with your life and career, bite your tongue! Oceanography has everything to do with just about anything on our planet and it especially has a lot to do with you!
By the way, do you know anyone that knows Kevin Bacon?