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The Best Marine Biology Books All Ocean Lover Must Read

Written by J. Harvey / Fact checked by S. Numbers

Since you love to have a journey on the waters, it’s just natural that you get interested in marine life. You may also want to learn the different organisms that dwell underwater. The best marine biology books are the best source in regards to this matter.

best marine biology books

You will be surprised to know numerous marine species and plants. A body of water can be vast as well as its inhabitants. Marine life books will also introduce amazing things like the survival of the coral reef. You allow you to learn how these living things interact with each other. The study of physical, chemical, and geographical factors is involved in this field.

When searching for marine accessories, you tend to be careful. It should be the same way when you search for the marine biology book. Check out the following top-notch books and choose the right one for you.

Top 1
Ocean: A Visual Encyclopedia

  • Has great pictures
  • Easy-to-comprehend
  • A great marine encyclopedia

Top 2
Ocean Anatomy: The Curious Parts

  • Has beautiful illustrations
  • Good for adults and children
  • Can be used for school and research

Top 3
Citizens of the Sea 

  • Clear description
  • Stunning photos
  • Perfect for diving

Best Marine Biology Book Reviews

1. Ocean: A Visual Encyclopedia

Everyone in my family loves this book as it’s an encyclopedia with vibrant photos and nice topics. We spend summer weekends at the lake or river and beyond that, my kids got interested in marine biology.

My dearest 6-year-old and two teenagers are amazed at the things featured in this book. Due to its content, it can be considered as one of the best marine biology books for 13-year-olds or middle school students.

As a non-expert in marine biology, it’s like dipping my toes into the ocean of knowledge. Just when you thought it’s only for children, it shows you a tremendous overview of fascinating marine subjects. The pictures are great too.

This encyclopedia doesn’t only feed my curiosity. In turn, it gives me more knowledge about the sea as it’s filled with abundant information. The description is easy to comprehend but not dumbed down at all. It’s brief yet supplied with important details.

Though this is not my field of expertise, I can explain it correctly to my youngest. It’s needed for small pictures with short explanations. With what I’ve learned from this book, I think I’m ready to leave the freshwater area and go on an ocean voyage!
What We Like
  • A great marine encyclopedia for all ages
  • Suitable for adults who are non-experts in marine biology
  • Shows a tremendous overview of fascinating marine subjects
  • Has great pictures
  • Filled with abundant information about the sea
  • Easy-to-comprehend, brief description but with important details
What We Don’t Like
  • Has small pictures with short explanations that need to be explained to children
It’s the source of marine biology for dummies and it suits individuals like me who are not adept at this topic. Additionally, you can use it to bond with your kids and discuss sea creatures.

2. Ocean Anatomy: The Curious Parts of the Sea

Don’t judge the book by its cover is a saying that relates literally to this book. Some may think that it’s something whimsical, but once you read through it, you’ll discover that it’s an informative reference book. You’ll get to know more about the ocean and its inhabitants.

It’s a real gem in our mini library at home. My children and I love it as we know a bit of this and that of the vast scope of the topic. Even my youngest, who is three years old, gets excited with this book. She would point to the picture and give a big smile. Since it’s part of our conversation most of the time, it leads us to have a beach trip every summer vacation.

I can say that it’s an engaging book for starters. Even though you only read it for fun, you’ll have a lot to gain. For example, it doesn’t feature a specific sea creature but it shows evolution instead. In some cases, you can have it for school and research. The illustrations are beautiful too so young learners are drawn to them. They may even serve as a guide to draw nature.

The art style is on the cute side including the font. But some complained that the cursive letters give them a hard time to read. As for me with good eyesight, it’s not an issue.
What We Like
  • An informative reference book about the ocean and its inhabitants
  • Good for adults and children
  • An engaging book for starters
  • Doesn’t only focus on a specific sea creature
  • Can be used for school and research
  • Has beautiful illustrations that can be a guide in drawing nature
What We Don’t Like
  • Some find it hard to read cursive
If you want to know more about the evolution of sea animals, read this book. It’s a good source for the whole family to read, learn, and have fun.

3. Citizens of the Sea the Census of Marine Life

My parents gave this to our 10-year-old son, who begins to love sailing as much as we do. So he also recently developed an interest in learning about marine life. I spent some days reading this book with him. Later on, I just realized that I like this book so much and I have to buy one of these. What kind of boating enthusiast am I if I don’t know the underwater living things?

This marine book contains the right amount of information. Ten minutes of reading will let you learn an extraordinary thing! When I brought it with me on a diving vacation, I couldn’t stop my excitement in dipping into the water to find different kinds of species introduced in the book.

The photos in this book are stunning, while the texts are captivating. It was the effort of the underwater photographers of National Geographic and the Census of Marine Life. Each page features an animal with a clear description. The presentation is fascinating too. Therefore, adults and youngsters alike can enjoy reading it while learning more about marine life.

The author of this book is Nancy Knowlton and she did a good job in showing the diversities of creatures underwater. My niece, who’s majoring in marine biology, finds it useful too. However, it’s not the scientific reference book that some people may need.
What We Like
  • Has the right amount of information
  • Perfect for diving or snorkeling vacation to know underwater species
  • Has stunning photos and captivating texts
  • A clear description of every featured animal
  • Can be read by adults and youngsters alike
What We Don’t Like
  • Not a scientific reference book
The author of this book is Nancy Knowlton and she did a good job in showing the diversities of creatures underwater. My niece, who’s majoring in marine biology, finds it useful too. However, it’s not the scientific reference book that some people may need.

4. Marine Biology: A Very Short Introduction

This book allows me to thoroughly explore the sea, the life in it, and the processes that take place in its depth. Unlike what the title says, it’s not short for a book filled with information that the author concisely lays out.

My love for sailing and scuba diving made me discover this book. It’s comprehensive even for an average adult, but it may be too technical for young learners. However, there may be an exemption if the child is advanced and eager to learn about this subject.

It’s the real deal introduction to marine biology as its content is like a preparation for a more complex topic. There are two chapters. The first one talks about the characteristics of the global ocean. From this point, I’ve learned more about air, seawater, pressure, current, motion, and other related points.

These things fuel more understanding when diving into the sea. For example, I’ve discovered that it’s fine to breathe when diving at 10 meters as 10-meter deep ocean water has a similar pressure as the air above it. It’s under control with the regulator that releases air at two atmospheres of pressure.

Biological processes are the topics in the second chapter. Due to this part, I understand how marine organisms coexist and utilize the elements around them. This is like a summary of a marine biologist book but with adequate content. Don’t be surprised if you see this in classes as a relevant source.
What We Like
  • Has concise information
  • Comprehensible even for an average adult
  • With contents that prepare readers for more complex topics
  • Has two chapters that introduce the elements found in the sea, organisms, and water pollution
What We Don’t Like
  • Too technical for some young learners
This book helped me to understand the water and its surroundings. With more knowledge, it also affects the certainty of my actions. Thus, I know very well how to keep myself safe when diving or swimming.

5. The True Story of How Eugenie Clark

This book is awesome not only for its beautiful illustrations in clear print. It’s educational and empowering at the same time. The story is substantial, and with the author’s talent, the storytelling has a nice approach that is even understandable for young ones.

I’ve been diving for many years and I hadn’t known Eugenie until I saw this book from my 5-year-old daughter. With the perseverance of this female scientist, there’s a load of information about sharks and other sea creatures that we know and will be taught to the future generation.

I have to admit that I know more about sharks because of this book. Even my daughter’s perspective is changed that these sea predators don’t just live underwater to prey and eat people. She even wants to be an underwater scientist like Eugenie. It’s well-written and engaging material but not excessively detailed.

Aside from shark and marine life stories, this book promotes female empowerment and determination despite obstacles. Eugenie wasn’t discouraged by society’s standards in her time and she continued to do her passion.

This is a wonderful book to read in class since it lets students learn about sea animals and perseverance. It’s truly inspirational because it’s nonfiction. What bothers me when reading it is the letters. They’ll be much better if they’re bigger.
What We Like
  • Has beautiful illustrations that are in clear prints
  • An educational and empowering book
  • Good for both adults and kids
  • Contains a load of information about sharks and other sea creatures
  • Engaging as the flow of the story is well-written
  • Promotes female empowerment and determination despite obstacles
What We Don’t Like
  • The letters can be too small for some to read
If you’re eager to learn more about sharks and other underwater creatures, this book will satisfy your yearning. Since this is a true story, it’s unquestionably inspiring.

6. The World Beneath: The Life of Unknown Sea Creatures

As a diver, I benefit a lot from this awesome book. It enhanced my understanding and how I appreciate living things during my underwater exploration. Hence, I enormously enjoy a diving vacation then go back to work rejuvenated.

Dr. Richard Smith did very well in crafting this book. It’s expected of him as he’s a marine biologist, diver, and photographer all at the same time. He shared what he discovered from hidden reefs in this book. I’ve been to many diving areas, but I’m still astonished at the coral reefs and some creatures that are shown in it.

You’ll surely find a unique collection of marine life in this book. Every portrait of the seafloor, fish, and small critters has exquisite details. My favorite picture is the male Banggai cardinalfish with a brooding mouth. The photos have soft colors and they all appear authentic and spectacular! There’s more to discover and even non-divers would be curious and delighted in looking at every page.

It’s like a magical book as it entertains any reader. The context is great and the wordings are arranged in a way that a close friend talks to you. Thus, it’s a very informative book. However, with the number of featured pictures in it, it could have been better if it has an index to find a certain topic easily.
What We Like
  • Enhances understanding and appreciation of living things under the sea
  • Shows animals and plants from hidden reefs
  • Every portrait has exquisite details, soft color, and authentic appearance
  • Entertaining as the context and wordings are arranged well
  • A very informative book
What We Don’t Like
  • No index
There’s a lot of books about marine biology but this one enthralls me the most as a diver. It’s like a documentary about the hidden treasure of the deep sea.

7. The Marine Biology Coloring Book

I can’t stand marine biology textbooks. So I wondered how I can be more knowledgeable about marine life. A coloring book like this one may sound childish but I learned a lot from it, in all honesty. I’ve been a visual learner since then, so it works for me.

You will be surprised as I know some people who use this book for marine biology class. Some teachers even associate this material with marine biology textbooks in high school. Even those in grad school think that it’s a great assistance in their quest for knowledge.

As you may know, children love coloring books. Hence, this book can be a way for parents to introduce water animals to them. Generally speaking, it’s safe to say that this is for everyone as all ages can learn from it.

A description is available for every picture. I’ve learned about the life cycles and the reproduction of sea animals. What’s more to find in this coloring book are oceanography, tidal zones, different species, global weather patterns, ocean currents, and other fun stuff. Thus, it’s very educational.

In my case, I get to remember or memorize the things in this book while I color them. Some shading or stippling is on some pictures and they make it hard to put some shade on. If you’re into art, you’ll like this coloring book for sure.
What We Like
  • Can help you become knowledgeable about marine life
  • A coloring book for all ages to learn
  • The description on every picture
  • More information about the sea aside from animals
  • Coloring can help you easily remember and memorize the things in the book
What We Don’t Like
  • Some pictures have shading or stippling
Learning about marine life and its surrounding is fun and much easier with this coloring book. It’s terrific because it’s suitable for everyone.

8. Marine Biology for the Non-Biologists

Aside from marine science textbooks, other sources like this can introduce marine biology. I enjoyed reading it because of the amazing facts that I’ve learned. Everything is well-explained for me, even though I have limited knowledge of this topic. Thus, it’s effortless to read.

This marine biology book is an informative book not only for a non-expert adult like me. Observing that my daughter likes it and learns from it, it’s one of the most suitable marine biology books for 12-year-olds. The things written in this book are realistic and out of factual, scientific ideas.

A book doesn’t have to be complex when imparting knowledge. That is why you will find this book is an ideal example. Even though some parts have limited illustrations, it doesn’t matter as it’s well-written.

I still have a good time reading it. Since I occasionally scuba dive, I want to learn more about life under the sea. Unfortunately, only a little is known about things underwater. That’s why it excites me whenever I find out something new about it.

I’ve noticed that my daughter and I have become more interested in marine biology since this book occupied its place in our small library at home. It’s usually included in our conversation so it’s part of our bonding time.
What We Like
  • Contains amazing facts
  • Easy to read and well-explained for non-expert adults
  • Suitable for young learners
  • Realistic and supplied with factual, scientific ideas
  • Well-written with exciting information
What We Don’t Like
  • Limited illustrations on some parts
Learning more about marine life doesn’t need to be dull and boring. This book proves it so I’m happy with it.

9. The Marine World: A Natural History of Ocean Life

I must say that this is a very educational book for someone like me who’s studying marine biology and with an intense passion for the marine world. A reef aquarium at home consents to my fantasy of being near the ocean. I like how this book expands my imagination to understand more about life under the sea.

This book is very detailed and it has pleasing illustrations. You’ll get to see the awesome selection of photos. Not exaggerating but I can’t stop reading this book as sea life and oceanography are so appealing to me. I also find it comprehensive. Therefore, it’s great for homeschooling high school students and college classes of future marine biologists.

My professor approves of its content. I agree with him because recent discoveries are enclosed in this book. So you’ll both learn the breakthrough in the past and new updates from this book. By fair judgment, it’s well-formatted despite tons of information.

The content of this book is excellent. Hence, it’s educational enough to be considered a serious academic reference source. Although you’ve finished school and you’re interested in marine life, this will make you learn more. However, the letters may be too small for those who have impaired vision. With the help of eyeglasses, it won’t be a problem.
What We Like
  • Expands imagination to understand more about life under the sea
  • Very detailed with pleasing illustrations
  • Has an awesome selection of photos
  • Comprehensive and well-formatted with past and recent discoveries
  • Educational and a serious academic reference source
What We Don’t Like
  • Letters may be too small for those with impaired vision
I enjoy reading and learning with this book. It motivates me to stock more knowledge for my passion and future career.

10. Marine Biology Botany, Zoology, Ecology, and Evolution

This material is great for college students. You will learn everything that you need from it. It talks about the basics of marine biology that are accompanied by a global approach. Ecosystems worldwide and numerous regions are set as examples. Hence, I can have a better understanding of the topics.

I bought it for my marine biology class and I read it before the term commenced. To my surprise, I finished the whole book since I’m fascinated with the things written in it. You know, I’m not a bookworm. But it’s a good thing as I’m prepared for the class.

It’s not only the content that I admire about this book but the pictures as well. The images are brilliant with a surprisingly X-ray feature. Just imagine how entertaining they are! Also, scanning through pages is quite stimulating.

Not all hardcover books can assure you of sturdiness. But this one is reliable with no doubt. I don’t have to worry that some pages would come up with frequent use. The cover looks attractive and inviting for every reader. With the knowledge that it imparts and its sturdy body, I think it’s worth every penny that I spend.

I’m happy with my purchase of this book as well. However, a classmate of mine received it with some used stickers. This gives an impression that it’s a used one but it’s not a big issue as you only have to clean it up.
What We Like
  • Great for college students
  • Discusses the basics of marine biology with a global approach
  • Can easily digest the information
  • With brilliant images
  • A sturdy hardcover book
What We Don’t Like
  • Some books come with used stickers
As a college student, this book helps me study marine biology easily because it’s entertaining. I can keep this for long as it’s a sturdy one. This kind of book can still be used even after I finished school.

11. The Ocean of Life: The Fate of Man and the Sea

I know that the things written in this book are true as they’re stated in other sources too. The author is knowledgeable enough to gather a massive amount of scientific research. Reading a non-fiction book like this one is an eye-opener. Since I live near the ocean, I can relate and learn from it.

I admire that this book is excellently written and documented. Even some complex parts are easy to follow. So I became aware of things that I haven’t discovered despite the amount of time I spend on the sea. To illustrate, two-thirds of the earth is composed of water. So there’s still a vast area that is not known to many. This book has disclosed some of the hidden information.

Aside from appreciating the beauty of the ocean, this book emphasizes the emergence to protect and preserve. It reminds me to watch my actions even though I don’t cause destruction when I go sailing. I became more aware and concerned than before.

I always see to it that I don’t commit destructive actions when fishing. There’s a lot to learn from the cause and effects, even though you don’t have formal education about marine biology. But it would be hard to keep you attentive to this book if you’re not interested in the topic.
What We Like
  • With true content from a massive amount of scientific research
  • An excellently written and documented nonfiction book
  • Complex parts are easy to follow
  • Teacher the reader to become more aware and concern of the ocean
  • Good for adults that don’t have formal education about marine biology
What We Don’t Like
  • Hard to be attentive to this book if you’re not interested in the topic
I’m not into fiction books about marine biology. Hence, this one is the best one for me as it relates to the reality of the current situation of the ocean.

12. Marine Biology: Function, Biodiversity, Ecology

After reading the entire book, I think it’s thoroughly researched. With clear descriptions, it’s a terrific material for laymen and undergraduates to ponder upon. I’m a freshman in college and this book helped me a lot.

The content aims to educate the reader, and it has the answers to your next exam. Though it’s not on the inspiring side, it develops my knowledge about marine life. I’m a water sports enthusiast who loves surfing and water skiing too. Hence, this book made me understand better the place on earth where I usually hang out.

I’m quite surprised to see a wide array of topics based on the size of this book. Therefore, I learn more rather than just a specific topic. There are subtopics and current events that would help you analyze the subject. Wonderful illustrations are added to make it comprehensive.

It’s much thinner and lighter than I expected. But it’s an advantage as I can easily carry it with me to and from university. Moreover, taking it to the shore is convenient. It’s a much better option than downloading the introduction to marine biology textbook PDF.

I thought it’s brand new but there were a few scratches and a frayed corner. But it’s not a big issue as these flaws don’t affect the inside of this book.
What We Like
  • Thoroughly researched and with clear descriptions
  • Develops marine life knowledge
  • Has a wide array of topics
  • Subtopics and current events are added to analyze the subject better
  • There are wonderful and comprehensive topics
  • Thin and light to easily carry around
What We Don’t Like
  • Not on the inspiring side
  • Not brand new in some cases
Learning a lot about marine life is smooth sailing because of this book. It allows you to better understand the sea and the creatures that live in it.

13. Becoming a Marine Biologist

Fishing and sailing consume most of my free time. Since I’m attached to the sea and curious about marine creatures, I want to gain knowledge akin to a marine biologist. I’m in my forties and still, I believe I can learn more. Among the books of marine life available in the market nowadays, this one is my favorite.

I found favor in this book because the content is demonstrated in a naturalist way. I’m not into mathematics and statistics data as they can’t be practically used. You’ll find out about the experiences and success of a marine biologist, Robin Baird in it. Patience is needed as you’ll find straightforward advice in the epilogue. It’s a good stance as you’ll learn the details first.

One reason that I bought this book is that Robin is a cetacean expert. For example, dolphins are such adorable and friendly creatures. Thus, I forget about the time when I read this book since there are too many things to learn from the two-decade experience of the author. Also, a good deal of information about whales is included in this book.

I enjoyed reading this book and became a fan of Robin Baird. As a part of my water adventures in the past, I did dolphin watching a couple of times and I swam with these cute creatures. I would like to swim with whales too if given a chance as I’ve known a lot of things about them.
What We Like
  • Content is demonstrated in a naturalist way
  • Filled with the experiences and success of a marine biologist
  • Has straightforward advice for those who want to be a marine biologist
  • A lot to learn from the two-decade experience of marine exploration in this book
  • Has a good deal of information about dolphins and whales
What We Don’t Like
  • The advice is written in the epilogue
Be more in love with dolphins and whales if you read this book. I learned so much from it so I further understand these creatures.

Factors To Consider When Choosing Marine Biology Book


There are various marine biology books and here’s a guide to help you pick the right one for your needs.

The Content

You may check the description or reviews about a certain book. Some introduce specific sea creatures and you’ll find the ones with varieties of topics. If you’re not an expert regarding this topic, a book with easy-to-read content suits you. On the other hand, those with complex topics are the choices of the advanced reader.


It’s great that a book has illustrations for more vivid explanations. Visual learners will benefit from them. Adding pictures on the pages will make it entertaining to the readers as well.

Reliability of Information

You’ll know if the information is legit because it’s based on scientific research or discoveries and from actual experiences. No one wants to read a book that bears falsification as it’s misleading.

What Is The Marine Biology Book

A marine biology book helps the readers understand marine species, plants, their mechanisms, and living conditions. It also gives insights on how to protect sea creatures from extinction and global warming.

Some marine biology books are from true stories which consist of experiences and success of renowned marine biologists. Discoveries in this field from the past and the present are found in some books. Current events and some issues are included as well to connect them to some important topics and subtopics.

Although you’ve dived in the depth of the sea many times, some marine biology books have more to offer. They’ll surprise you with extraordinary creatures or organisms and even a one-of-a-kind seabed which will fuel your curiosity.

Who Makes The Marine Biology Book


In most cases, marine biologists make marine biology books. They crafted a book to document their experiences and breakthroughs. Some also incorporate their knowledge with issues at the sea and its inhabitants.

Where To Buy A Marine Biology Book

You can head to the nearest bookstore to buy a marine biology book. But the book that you like may be out of stock. So shopping online will be your last resort. You won’t fail to find what you intend to buy. However, be smart enough to choose a reliable website that will let you purchase a good deal.


The best marine biology books are not only for students. They are used for many reasons. Researchers need it as well as boaters and sailing enthusiasts. Aside from having a good time on the waters, they also get interested in its elements and inhabitants. Knowing the sea very well contributes to your safety during your voyage. If you have a better understanding of the water, you’re careful about your actions and won’t damage other things.

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