- The world’s ocean and estuaries fascinate many – from oceanographers studying the deep-sea to resource managers regulating fishing seasons to children finding their first seashell on the beach. The complexity of the marine environment is reflected in the specialized and interdisciplinary journals covering marine science. Journals can focus on particular flora or fauna, a certain sub-discipline or on one ocean basin. Specialized scientific publications address particular aspects of the system including its physical dynamics, its chemistry and geology as well as its biology. There are journals devoted to the technology used to explore the oceans and estuaries, advising engineers how to manage and harness the dynamic environment. Policy and management journals address the complexity of human interaction with the sea and aid planners who need to translate research into practice. Maritime titles cover transportation and law of the sea.
The breadth of the field challenges a librarian shaping a collection. A comprehensive research collection is difficult to maintain given the vastness of the subject and the number of related titles. The classic sub-fields of oceanography - physical, biological, chemical and geological - each have specific journals in addition to the ones covering all aspects. Studying the marine realm at a global scale often involves remote sensing technology, a topic not covered in this section. Also, other special technical and engineering journals are important to marine science research, and should be part of a strong academic collection. The marine policy is crafted on scientific foundations; so collections involved with environmental planning and management need the scientific and the social science titles.
For those collecting for a general audience, few marine titles are aimed at this audience, yet the subject is well covered in National Geographic, Scientific American and other general science and environment periodicals in additional to ones mentioned below. Librarians selecting journals in the marine sciences should know the interests and needs of their audience, and make choices accordingly.
Identifying marine science information is also challenging as it is so multi-disciplinary. One index does cover the field comprehensively. Web of Science provides adequate general access. For the sub-fields of oceanography, the librarian will need access to the resources such as SciFinder Scholar (Chemical Abstracts) or GeoRef depending on the research question. Biosis and Zoological Record cover the biological abstracts well. Aquatic Science and Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA) is an essential resource for the applied science of the marine and estuarine environments. Marine policy and management information remains more difficult to access and requires multiple indices including ASFA and relevant social sciences databases. For general public and basic academic collections, an index such as EBSCO’s Academic Search Premier is adequate for both the science and management elements of the field.