Our oceans are a group of fascinating ecosystems that we depend on more than we realize. They support at least half of the world’s living organisms, regulate climate and weather patterns, produce over half of the world’s oxygen, are the origin of groundbreaking medicines, and provide food and livelihood for countless people around the world.
And with more than 80% of the ocean currently being unexplored, we’ve got tons more to learn about it. Thankfully, we’re doing just that, with the help of marine biologists and oceanographers, who are discovering new things every day.
And as cool as they are, and how important their work is, buying gifts for them can be challenging. Unless you’re well-versed in their field, it can be hard to know what would be a useful gift for them. To make your life a little easier, I’ve put together a list of some of the best gifts for marine biologists and oceanographers. Hopefully it’ll make your search for the perfect gift go a little smoother.
This is the most practical gift category. If you’re looking for a sensible gift that will be well used and appreciated, this is the category for you.
1. PLB (Personal Location Beacon)
In my eyes this is the best gift on this list, and the first one I would buy for anyone who visits areas with unreliable cell phone service. I like to ensure that those I care for are as prepared as possible for worst-case scenarios and life-threatening situations, and getting them a PLB is one of the easiest and most reliable ways to do this. It’s a gift that screams “I care about your well-being.”
PLB’s are handheld devices that work by transmitting distress signals in emergency situations to the global satellite system, who then send the distress signal to local emergency services. They transmit information such as the PLB’s ID, precise GPS coordinates, and a homing signal that makes it easier for search-and-rescue to find you in dense vegetation and near cliffs.
They can save your life, and I recommend anyone who frequently travels to remote areas (hikers, kayakers, cavers, rock climbers, field scientists, and more) have a permanent place for one in their pack.
The ResQLink 400, made by ARC, one of the most well-known and highest rated PLB manufacturers, is the one that I recommend. Unlike many other PLB devices, it requires no subscription, can be used anywhere in the world, and operates on all three Cospas-Sarsat satellite systems ensuring near instantaneous signal detection. It also comes built in with infrared strobe lights, a 5-year battery life, and a buoyant body, making it friendly for use around water.
2. UPF Tops
For anyone who is out in the sun a lot, such as marine biologists and oceanographers, clothes with UPF protection are a necessity. They are just as effective at preventing UV damage as traditional sunscreens, don’t have to be reapplied, and will last a long time if you buy durable, high-quality products. Sunscreen is also a necessity, but is much less reliable because, let’s be honest, reapplying ain’t gonna happen near as often as it should.
Applying sunscreen on the go is more often than not inconvenient. Working/traveling hands tend to be dirty hands, and applying sunscreen with filthy hands is zero fun. So to help your giftee prevent skin cancer and aging, and make their life a little easier, I highly recommend buying them clothes with UPF protection.
Each are UPF 50+ (which blocks 98% of the sun’s rays), are made of a cotton/bamboo-viscose/spandex blend, and are machine washable and dryable. Both feel lightweight, soft, and are super comfortable. I’ve also found them to be much better than normal shirts at temperature regulation on hot, sunny days.
3. UPF Pants
Protecting your legs from ultraviolet rays is just as important as protecting your upper body, so pants with a UPF factor of at least 50 are a must. These both fit the bill (one for ladies, one for men) and are stretchy and loose enough to be friendly for those with an active lifestyle or job.
4. UPF Hats
Out of all the upf 50+ apparel I own, sun hats are the ones that I wear most. I wear them pretty much anytime I’m leaving my house, unless I need to be somewhere with neat hair. Going for a day hike or a seven day backpacking trip? Sun hat. Grocery store? Sun hat. Watering my plants? Sun hat.
Wearing them is an easy and effective way to prevent facial sun damage and premature aging, and I use them in combination with sunscreen daily. They also keep my head cool in even the sunniest weather, which is much appreciated during brutal summers.
Both this straw hat and this polyester hat are collapsible and packable, making them ideal for those with active lifestyles. They’re both UPF 50+ and come with detachable chin straps, which is very important to me – I’ve lost hats before from strong winds, and now exclusively buy sun hats with straps.
5. Waterproof Watch
I know from personal experience that Casio makes superb waterproof watches. Like, the best. My Casio G-Shock lasted longer than any other watch I’ve ever had – I swam in it, hiked in it, worked out in it, showered in it, and lived with it on my wrist for years. It never even broke, either! I still have it to this day, and it still tells time perfectly.
This one is a classic, all black g-Shock and this one is a more feminine white and rose gold combo. Both are water resistant for up to 200 meters (656 feet), insanely durable, have highly adjustable wrist bands, 10-year battery lives, and back lights that make telling the time at night easier.
6. Rain Suit
Rain gear is an essential piece of gear for anyone who’s frequently exposed to the elements. You can’t always avoid rain, and when you can’t the best you can do is prevent it from soaking you to the bone.
Believe me, there’s not much less fun than being sopping wet in cold weather. This rain suit made by FROGG TOGGS is one of mine and many other people’s favorites. It’s made out of 100% polyester, is lightweight, easily packable, waterproof, wind resistant, and comes with a removable hood. It also comes in almost 20 different colors.
One of the best things about the suit is that despite it being waterproof, it’s quite breathable, which is hard to find in rain gear.
7. Waterproof Bag
When you’re carrying valuables like phones, cameras, radios, and work related technologies, a waterproof bag would come in very useful. It gives you peace of mind that your equipment will be protected, and remain dry through rain, snow, and other wet conditions. I use one when caving, hiking, and pretty much anytime im going anywhere where I’ll be exposed to tons of water.
Finding a good, high quality, reliable waterproof bag that isn’t exuberantly overpriced can be difficult. A lot of the ones you’ll find are oddly shaped and proportioned, are too small, and aren’t actually all that waterproof.
This duffel bag made by Earth pack is one of my go-to waterproof bags, and I have nothing but good things to say about it. It comes in both a 50 liter and 70 liter size, making it big enough to carry most if not all your gear, is super durable with seams that are thermo-welded shut, and, my favorite part, is completely collapsible making storage very convenient.
8. Waterproof Boots
What is the best waterproof footwear? That’s a debatable question, with an answer that changes depending on who you ask. Many outdoorsmans favorite are wellies, and I couldn’t agree more. (aka rubber boots)
A good pair of Wellies like these are durable, waterproof, easy to move in, easy to drain, easy to clean, keep your feet warm, and are stiff soled to provide grip/protection. This makes them a top-notch contender for best waterproof boots in my eyes.
9. Diving Gloves
You know what’s even worse than cold, wet feet? Cold, wet hands.
A simple pair of diving gloves will prevent this while providing extra traction, warmth, and protection, without limiting mobility. You don’t need anything fancy, just a basic pair of diving gloves like these. They’re made of quick-drying neoprene, are strong but flexible, and because they’re made of neoprene (the same material wetsuits are made of) they do a killer job of keeping your hands warm.
10. Waterproof Notebook
Marine biologists, oceanographers, environmental scientists, and any field scientists carry around notebooks. They’ve gotta have a way to record their findings, and although technology is getting more and more advanced, sometimes it’s still more practical to use a notebook. They’re a lot less fragile, that’s for sure.
That being said, a waterproof notebook would be preferred over a simple notebook from the grocery store. This is doubly true for scientists that deal with and work near a lot of water. This notebook is called The Indestructible, and for good reason. It’s waterproof, weather resistant, tear-proof, and virtually indestructible.
11. Good Knife
Everyone should own a reliable pocket knife, and field scientists are no exception. If the person you’re buying a gift for doesn’t already have one, the CRKT K.I.S.S. EDC Folding Pocket Knife is a cult favorite by people of all sorts. It’s got an efficient and minimalistic build that makes it easier to use, and both a serrated and straight blade for cutting a wide range of materials.
Anyone who takes part in animal watching, whether through a hobby or career, would benefit from having a nice pair of binoculars.
This can be tricky for people who are observing marine life because, by nature of the surroundings, waterproof binoculars are a necessity. They’ve also got to be durable and maintain quality high definition optics, and it’s hard to find all three in one.
The Bushnell Marine 7×50 Waterproof Binoculars are a favorite of boaters, marine biologists, and Coast Guard personnel alike. They’re built to last decades, are 100% waterproof, vapor proof, corrosion resistant, have a non-slip build, and are built with UV protection lenses. The kit comes with the binoculars themselves, straps, lens caps, a lens cloth, and a carrying case.
13. Waterproof Speaker
If your giftee is a music, audiobook, or podcast lover, a waterproof portable speaker would be a fitting present. If you find a good one – like this JBL – it’ll be waterproof, have 10+ hours of playtime, have awesome sound quality, and come with a built in carabiner that makes securing it to a backpack or belt easier.
14. Waterproof Camera
Photography becoming accessible to all is a gift that we should be thankful for. It’s led to groundbreaking innovation in camera technology and research, and has given anyone with a camera the ability to capture meaningful moments and create art.
Consumers now have access to equipment that a decade ago we couldn’t even dream of. Included in that is action cameras – tough as nails, 100% waterproof, near indestructible cameras that are perfect for anyone with an active lifestyle.
Marine biologists and oceanographers would both love a good waterproof camera, for both personal and occupational use. They need a camera to document their findings as much as they need it to take photos for fun, and although phones are becoming more waterproof, the majority of people wouldn’t feel safe snapping photos with their phone in the middle of a large body of water.
GoPros are the kings of action cameras, and the GoPro HERO9 is particularly phenomenal. It shoots videos in up to 5K resolution, is 100% waterproof down to 33 feet, has 30% more battery capacity than previous models, comes built-in with advance video stabilization, can shoot in super slow motion, and can record time lapses. They’re also extremely durable (that’s what they’re known for), take up barely any space, and can be shot with by hand, on a tripod, or on a headset.
Who doesn’t love a good book? They are great gifts for anyone, and below are a few books that would be particularly fun reads for marine biologists and oceanographers.
15. Secrets of the Whales
Secrets of the Whales is a brand new book made by National Geographic that tells a visual story of whales, their intelligence, feeding strategies, parenting techniques, and their long-running relationship with humans.
The book is filled with gorgeous, never-before-seen photographs captured by widely acclaimed Brian Skerry, a man who has explored our oceans for over 40 years. If your giftee loves appreciating photography as much as they love taking part in it, this would be a superb gift for them.
16. An Entirely Synthetic Fish
This is an intriguing read on a topic that many people know nothing about, but that effects us all. An Entirely Synthetic Fish tells the story of rainbow trout, an opportunistic and highly adaptable fish that is native to the remote Waters of northern California. It’s dubbed the entirely synthetic fish, as it’s been introduced as the artificial freshwater fish of choice in countless ponds, lakes, and bodies of water. They can now be found in literally every single state and province in the United States and Canada, and in every continent but Antarctica.
The species is loved by some, but hated by many around the world, primarily because of their invasive nature, and how devastating of an impact their introduction can be to native fauna. The book showcases how rainbow trout became what they are today, largely because of human intervention, and how much they affect our ecosystems and our lives.
17. Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms
This is a favorite book of mine, and one that I find mesmerizing every time I re-read. Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms: The Story of the Animals and Plants That Time Has Left Behind is a fascinating recounting of life’s history told through organisms that have survived, practically unchanged, throughout time. The book focuses on the world’s oldest old-timers, and how they’ve stubbornly held on to life even through the harshest natural disasters and extinction events.
Also, Richard Fortey – a world-renowned natural scientist and author of many books, including this one – has a genuine gift in his ability to capture the reader with his writing style. You never feel forced when reading his books, and I have a hard time putting them down.
18. Sex in the Sea
If the person you’re buying a gift for is big on comedy and would enjoy a more playful book, Sex in the Sea would be the one to choose. It’s a witty and downright hilarious book about the elaborate mating rituals of our ocean’s inhabitants, and how bizarre some of them are. It also touches on sustainability, and how climate change and tons of other factors are disrupting the procreation of these wonderfully strange creatures.
I practically live in the kitchen, and I love having items and tools lying around that remind me of the things I love. That’s a shared sentiment for a lot of people, so here’s some cool marine biology and oceanography related kitchenware.
19. Salt and Pepper Shakers
20. Shark Wine Glasses
21. Sea Turtle Glasses
22. Octopus Wine Stopper
23. Whale Butter Dish
24. Ocean Dinnerware
25. Dish Drying Mat
26. Marine Life Cookie Cutters
27. Lobster Claw Pot Holder
28. Kids Plate
TEA & COFFEE
If your giftee is as big a tea or coffee drinker as I am, they’d love a new ocean themed thermos,or teapot. Here are some of the most fun tea and coffee themed products.
29. Turtle Teapot
30. Octopus Teapot
31. Manatee Infuser
32. Sea Turtle Infuser
33. Hand Painted Octopus Mug
34. Octopus Travel Thermos
HOME & GARDEN DECOR
Home and garden decor make for a splendid gift, especially when it’s inspired by one’s hobbies or profession. Your surroundings are important, and having nice things to decorate your house with that remind you of the things you like feels good.
Here are some fun marine biology and oceanography inspired decor gifts, ones that I liked the most, and had the best reviews.
35. Hand-blown Conch Paper Weight
36. Shell String Lights
37. Seaturtle Planter
38. Shell Bathroom Set
39. Abalone Shell
40. Seal Pillow
41. Realistic Seaturtle Plushie
We all wear clothes, whether it’s around the house or out and about, so what’s wrong with getting someone a t-shirt that is inspired by the things they love?
If anything, it shows how much you listen and care about their hobbies. Here’s a list of some of the best marine biology and oceanography related apparel:
42. Orca Baseball Cap
43. Shark Socks
44. Turtle Apron
45. Crocs Whale Charm
46. Orca Tie
47. Whale Backpack
49. Anatomical Whale Crossbody
50. Dolphin Keychain
51. Conch Earrings
52. Seaturtle Necklace
53. Blobfish Slippers
Those are all the gift ideas I could think of for individuals interested in marine biology or oceanography. I know there are tons more, so if you feel like there’s one I didn’t mention, feel free to leave a comment below.
Happy gift giving!
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Hi, I’m Ash!
I’m a laid back traveler who loves experiencing new things and spontaneity. My favorite hobbies are hiking, gardening, skincare, and all things tea.
My biggest goal is to spread the word about sustainable travel and show everyone how easy it is to partake in. If you wanna learn more about that or get to know me better, feel free to click here.