Because there are so many topics one could study within the field of marine biology, many researchers select a particular interest and specialize in it. Specializations can be based on a particular species, organism, behavior, technique or ecosystem. For example, marine biologists may choose to study a single species of clams, or all clams that are native to a climate or region.
One area of specialization, the emerging field of marine biotechnology, offers great opportunity for marine biologists. Marine biotechnology research presents a wide range of possibilities and applications. One area of focus is the biomedical field, where scientists develop and test drugs, many of which come from marine organisms. An example of an application of biotechnology research can be seen in industry or defense, where researchers have developed nontoxic coatings that prevent the buildup of fouling organisms, such as barnacles and zebra mussels. Such coatings are useful for ships and intake pipes used in power plants.