What Do Ichthyologists Do?

Fishes engender an inexplicable passion in students. This, coupled with the reputation of the Department, has resulted in our attracting students from many countries. The students currently registered in the Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science (DIFS) are from South Africa, Namibia, Colombia, Germany, England and Zimbabwe. In the past, we have also had students from Hong Kong, Australia, Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho, Tanzania, Canada, Seychelles, Israel, Mauritius and Scotland.

The academic programme of the DIFS aims to prepare students for a career in ichthyology, fisheries science or aquaculture. This requires the students to have a sound theoretical knowledge and the ability to undertake research at the cutting edge. All Students are encouraged to undertake research projects within the main research thrusts of the staff members. Students at all levels are actively encouraged to publish their research findings in the international peer reviewed literature. This policy has in the past been very successful and contributes towards enhanced and unparalleled scientific enthusiasm.

Students are selected on the basis of academic performance and their interest in ichthyology, fisheries science or aquaculture.

An ichthyologist or a fisheries scientist is a person who devotes a career to studying and managing the fishery resources, which may involve shellfish or aquatic mammals as well as fishes. Ichthyologists are involved in work all over the world

Examples of Employment Opportunities

Applied Research

National and local agencies, South African National Parks and Water Research Commission (WRC) employ ichthyologists in research and administrative positions. Responsibilities of these agencies include management and development of commercial and sport fishing regulations, regulating use of coastal and wetland areas for recreation, identification of commercial adult and larval fish populations, and protection of endangered or threatened species.

University and School Teaching and Research

Many Ph.D. ichthyologists and fisheries scientists seek employment as university professors where their primary responsibilities are teaching, research and administration. Courses taught by ichthyologists usually include general biology and one or more specialized courses such as comparative anatomy, behaviour, biometry, ecology, or systematic, in addition to ichthyology.

Museum Curatorship and/or Collection Management

Many museum curators conduct research on a particular group of fishes, examining preserved fish specimens as a primary source of data. Collection managers are responsible for the proper preservation and handling of fish specimens, maintaining records, and assuring that the collection is accessible to other scientists for study.

Public Aquaria and the Aquarium Hobby

Jobs include aquarium maintenance and animal keeping, exhibit development, education, public outreach, and research on captive breeding and other aspects of maintaining live aquatic animal populations.

Conservation Biology

Ichthyologists at conservation agencies, such as Conservation International and the World Wildlife Fund, work with other biologists to develop conservation plans for species and species communities.

Fish and Shellfish Farms

In a fish or shellfish farm you may work on ocean pens off the coast growing marine finfish, or on inland farms where freshwater species can be cultivated in ponds. The South African growing aquaculture industry is concerned with the raising of aquatic animals and plants for many reasons including production of food and home aquaria.

Last Modified: Thu, 04 Jun 2015 20:30:35 SAST