Qualification - Proficiency Award in Marine Biology

Course CodeBEN214
Fee CodePA
Duration (approx)500 hours
QualificationProficiency Award

Become an expert in marine biology and aquaculture with this innovative course.  Would you like to learn more about marine biology for personal interest or to improve your job prospects in this great field? Then this course is an excellent starting point.

This course is suitable for

  • anyone wanting to learning more about marine creatures for job or personal reasons. 
  • anyone interested in the marine biology and ecology.

This course is an excellent starting point to finding work, improving your career prospects and your knowledge if you want to work in areas such as -

  • zoos
  • marine parks
  • aquarium shops
  • aquarium support staff
  • wildlife parks
  • safari parks and more.

To complete this course, you are required  to complete three 100 hour modules in -

Marine Studies I and II

Marine Aquaculture

You are then required to complete a 200 hour industry related project or work experience.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Qualification - Proficiency Award in Marine Biology.
 Industry Project BIP000
 Marine Studies I BEN103
 Aquaculture -Marine BAG220
 Marine Studies II BEN203
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 1 of the following 3 modules.
 Industry Project II BIP001
 Aquarium Management BEN105
 Marine Ecology Management BEN304

Note that each module in the Qualification - Proficiency Award in Marine Biology is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

Aquatic Animals

Most aquatic animal species are more primitive types of animals such as fish and invertebrates. There is however still a diverse range of more advanced aquatic animals, notably aquatic mammals. These include both cetaceans and carnivores. Carnivores include the seals, while cetaceans include dolphins and whales.

You will develop a broad understanding of all these animal groups as you move through this course.

Dolphins belong to the family Delphinidae. This family consists of the most species diversity with around 43, within seventeen genera.  They range in size from 1.5 meters to 10 meters in length, and all species have a fatty lump on their forehead which creates a distinctive bulge which is believed to assist in feeding and echolocation.  Some have a beak-like rostrum and others short, broad and stumpy.  The dorsal fin present on their streamline bodies.  The species in this family all have teeth which are peg-like and pointed.  They thrive in oceans, seas, rivers across the globe, and prefer shallow waters or near surface.  All species are fast swimmers.  


There are a number of different dolphin genera.

Consider some examples

Genus "Cephalorhynchus"
This genus includes four species of dolphin:

  • Cephalorhynchus commersonii (Commerson’s dolphin)
  • Cephalorhynchus eutropia (Black dolphin)
  • Cephalorhynchus heavisidii (Heaviside’s dolphin)
  • Cephalorhynchus hectori (Hector’s dolphin)

All four species are relatively small ranging from one to two meters in size and hold the streamlined, torpedo shaped bodies which assist in their high speed swimming.  They all have rounded heads with a distinctive beak–like rostrum, except Cephalorhynchus hectori, whose beak is less distinctive.  C. commersonii is mostly white in colour with black markings over the head, blowhole, dorsal fin, pectoral fins and encircling the tail.  Calves are born grey and this usually changes around four to six months.  C. eutropia is dark grey in colour with lighter patches behind the pectoral fins, throat and anal area.  C. heavisidii is dark grey in colour with distinctive white patches in the ventral locality, and dark blue shade running from the blowhole to the tail.  C. hectori is also grey in colour with white markings along the ventral surface.  All species have rounded pectoral fins.  The dorsal fin of C. commersonii and C. hectori both have rounded dorsal fins, and C. eutropia and C. heavisidii both have triangular shaped dorsal fins.  

Cephalorhynchus commersonii populations are located in the southwest Atlantic Ocean, near Patagonia and the Falkland Islands, and the east coast of South America.  A population is also present in the Indian Ocean with individuals being larger in size than their Atlantic cousins.  Cephalorhynchus eutropia is distributed along the Chilean coastline, and populations may overlap with the C. commersonii.  Cephalorhynchus heavisidii is distributed within the Atlantic Ocean particularly along the southwest African coastline.  C. hectori thrive along the coastline of New Zealand with four genetically distinctive regional populations.  One population is distributed along the west coast of the North of the Island and is known locally as the Maui’s Dolphin.  This population appears to have larger skulls than the southern cousins.  The other three populations are distributed across the south of the Island, which are still genetically distinct from one another.  All four species prefer to thrive in shallow waters and where tidal currents can be strong, such as bay, river mouths and estuaries.   C. eutropia thrive in tidal currents and have been observed entering into river estuaries.  C. heavisidii will also thrive in coastlines but may not be as close to land as the other three species.  C. hectori will spend their summer months close to shore, then their winter month’s further off shore.  

The reproduction of these species is limited and it is believed to copulate using belly to belly rubbing.  C. commersonii has been observed mating in the months of September to February, C. eutropia in early winter whilst C. hectori will mate in summer to give birth in the winter months. All have a gestation period of around twelve months, and will give birth to only on calf which is born tail first.  The mother will feed her calf on milk secreted from her mammary glands.  Mating will occur every two to four years.  Sexual maturity is reached between five to nine years.  C. hectori is believed to be polygynandrous, where many males and females mate with opposite sexes.  The males will go in search of any receptive females.  When C. hectori calves reach around two years of age they become independent and have been observed forming young juvenile groups.  

The four species are all social animals which form loose groups of two to three individuals, although larger groups of thirty individuals have been observed.  Cooperative feeding may also be involved in these loose social groups.  They can reach high speeds and swim against strong waves and currents.  C. commersonii has been known for its strong, acrobatic spins through waves and also socialises with the Lagenorhynchus australis (Peales Dolphin).  C. heavisidii has been observed leaping out of the water to height of two meters.  C. eutropia has been observed assisting injured individuals within their group.  All use echolocation, touch and visual communication.  

All four species feed on schools of small fish, squid, octopus and crustaceans.  C. commersonii also feeds on algae and benthic invertebrates as a more opportunistic feeder.  

Genus "Delphinus"
This genus contains two species:
    Delphinus delphis (Short beaked common dolphin)
    Delphinus capensis (Long beaked common dolphin)

Delphinus delphis is found widely distributed across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  They have been known to swim up the Gulf Stream to cooler waters, and can be seen living in the Black Sea, Red Sea, Gulf of Mexico, Mediterranean Sea and even as far as the Indian Ocean.  They thrive in coastal and open seas.  Delphinus capensis is believed to have two subspecies dependant on distribution; Delphinus capensis capensis and Delphinus capensis tropicalis the latter being found in in the indo-pacific ocean.  D.capensis have a scattered distribution and can be found in warm, shallow coastal waters of South and West Africa, Latin America, Madagascar, Peru, Japan and Korea.  

D.delphinus is the smaller of this genus, and share most similarities.  Both have a high triangular dorsal fin, with small pectoral fins and flukes.  Their rostrum is beak shaped with a groove separating this from the forehead.  The main difference, hence the names, is their beak size.  D.capensis has a longer beak which can be up to 10% of their own body size.  D.capensis has a sleeker body shape.  They are both dark grey to brown in body colour, with a lighter coloured underside, separated by a crisscross pattern along their flanks, although D.capensis patterns are less distinct.  D.delphinus has dark markings encircling the orbital area, compared to D.capensis has a dark stripe leading from the eye to their beak.  

Courtship consists of fast swimming, rubbing of fins, swimming alongside each other, and males will chase the females.  Copulation occurs when the bell to belly motion is formed.  Gestation is approximately ten to twelve months, and sexual maturity is reached at around twelve to fifteen years of age.  Calves are immediately accepted into groups, and their mothers will feed their young milk from their teats.  Other members of the group assist in protecting the calves and accompanying them for air.  

This genus is extremely sociable, and can live in groups ranging from 100 to 100,000 individuals.  These large groups are probably formations of smaller, social pods.  These groups will eat, play, travel and breathe at the same time.  They show acrobatic displays of flips and jumps ad will swim behind the waves created by boats and whales.  The species within this genus are very vocal and playful, ad will also help care for sick individual’s ad will share responsibilities.  

All species will feed on small fish such as herring, sardines, pilchards, and also squid and octopus.  Group members will round up a school of fish, and the each individual will swim at high speeds through the school of fish, catching their prey.  The have been observed feeding with Tursiops truncates (Bottlenose dolphin) and Lagenorhynchus obliquidens (Pacific white sided dolphin) species.

What Next?

If you would like to work with marine creatures, a deeper understanding of marine biology is essential.  Completion of this course will improve not only your knowledge of marine creatures, but also your job and career prospects. 

Find work in - safari parks, zoos, wildlife parks, nature parks, petting zoos, aquariums, fish farms, research, schools and more.

Find out more and share your knowledge with others. People love beautiful marine fish and want to learn more about them. With this course, you become the expert and can share that knowledge in a career you love.

So, why delay? Enrol today.

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