Yes ‘everyone’ says this. They told me this too. I think many of us forget how immense the ocean and its life are, an therefore how broad the term “marine biologist” is. Technically the term means someone studying (i.e. researching) the biology of organisms in the marine environment. There’s lots of organisms and there’s lots of different marine environments! Maybe you are studying Cephalopoda in the deep sea, or maybe you’re working with gobies on a rocky shore, or sea birds and mangroves…there is a long list of research. But research isn’t the only thing you can do with a marine biology degree. Maybe you’ll work in education, or in environmental consultancy, or marine conservation. The skills you will learn are transferable to other fields. So there is no real answer to that question, and generally it IS hard to get a job in these economic climes. My advice, as always, is do something you love. You’ll be more interested and do better at it. But things aren’t gonna fall into your lap just because you worked hard at school. Seek opportunity, volunteer, take internships. It will help you focus you’re interests and build a network of contacts. And tell ‘everyone’ to sod off. We’ve all heard it before.
For those of you who ask for advice on ‘what to do next’, this is a great website from Conservation International on how to get there.