Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), Monterey, California

Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) was founded in 1987 by David Packard.David Packard, Founder Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institution “The mission of MBARI is to achieve and maintain a position as a world center for advanced research and education in ocean science and technology, and to do so through the development of better instruments, systems, and methods for scientific research in the deep waters of the ocean. MBARI emphasizes the peer relationship between engineers and scientists as a basic principle of its operation. All of the activities of MBARI must be characterized by excellence, innovation, and vision.” David Packard, MBARI Founder

Orthogonal view of Monterey Canyon bathymetryThis aerial view of Monterey Bay from the south was created by combining computer-generated topographic and bathymetric data.

Vertical relief has been exaggerated to better show the Monterey Canyon and mountains on either side of the bay.




Science and Technology Goals:

Monterey Bay Aquarium Open Sea Exhibit To carry out its mission, the institute has defined six main goals:

  • Identify important areas of marine science where research progress is limited by lack of appropriate technology.
  • Develop sophisticated systems for investigating aspects of the marine environment and its inhabitants where high scientific potential exists.
  • Meet the highest possible performance standards for the operation of its equipment and technological systems.
  • Conduct high-quality, innovative research that maximizes effective management and use of all MBARI assets.
  • Develop, in collaboration with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, creative programs that maximize the educational value of MBARI’s research results.
  • Transfer research results, technology, and operational techniques to the marine science community worldwide.

Location, personnel, and funding:

Map of Monterey Bay with Moss Landing, where Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institution is located. MBARI is located in Moss Landing, California, where its three research ships and two remotely operated vehicles are berthed, giving them immediate access to Monterey Bay. MBARI also operates several autonomous underwater vehicles and maintains moorings offshore, equipped with ocean-monitoring instruments.

As a private, non-profit research center, MBARI is funded by The David and Lucile Packard Monterey Bay AquariumFoundation. Christopher Scholin serves as the institute’s president and chief executive officer, managing a work force of approximately 220 scientists, engineers, and operations and administrative staff. MBARI scientists propose and execute innovative studies, both experimental and theoretical, in the ocean sciences. Engineers and operations staff, in partnership with the scientists, develop or adapt supporting technology.

Deep-sea research

MBARI Deep Sea Research 02Monterey Bay is one of the most biologically diverse bodies of waters in the world, and the underlying submarine canyon—part of the complex geology of the continental plate margin—is one of the deepest underwater canyons along the continental United States. With a “laboratory” up to 4,000 meters deep only a few ship-hours from their base of operations, institute scientists conduct research relevant to much of Earth’s water-covered realm.

MBARI Deep Sea Research 03MBARI’s current efforts span eight research themes, including: benthic processes, midwater research, upper ocean biogeochemistry, ocean observatories, remotely operated vehicle enhancements and upgrades, new in situ instruments, infrastructure support, and information dissemination and outreach.

Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) You Tube Channel

Check Out the MBARI You Tube Channel with an amazing array of interesting and informative videos.  

Below are two interesting ones amongst the many online for education purposes  

Trash in the deep sea: Bringing a hidden problem to lights and
Ghostly critters from the deep sea: Stygiomedusa gigantea

Links to Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institution
Projects, Past Projects, Annual Reports and Research Projects

MBARI’s Strategic Plan identifies four research theme priorities

  • Biogeochemical cycles
  • Ecosystem processes
  • Ocean visualization
  • Exploration and discovery

Visitors watching sea nettles (Chrysaora fuscescens) at the Sea Nettle Exhibit.

The institute’s Technology Roadmap expands on those themes by defining a series of problem statements that are used to derive needed capabilities, and then organizes necessary technological advances under three overlapping engineering initiatives:

  • Taking the laboratory into the ocean
  • Enabling targeted sampling
  • Advancing a persistent presence

MBARI Deep Sea Research 04Below is MBARI’s 2015 project portfolio, which dovetails with those plans from both science and engineering perspectives. To find out more about a project, click on the section header above it, which will take you to brief summaries of the projects within that research theme. For summaries of research projects from  previous years, see past projects. For details about accomplishments in past years, see the online versions of the MBARI Annual Report.

  • Biogeochemical Cycles
    • Biodiversity and Biooptics of Zooplankton
    • Chemical Sensor Program
    • Coastal Profiling Float
    • Ecology and Dynamics of Picophytoeukaryotes
    • Enhancing Detection Chemistries
    • Molecular Ecology of Marine and Aquatic Organisms
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  • MBARI Deep Sea Research 05Ecosystem Processes
    • Change in Monterey Bay and the California Current
    • Integrated MBARI Time-Series Program
    • Midwater Ecology
    • Midwater Time Series
    • Passive Acoustic Sensing in Foraging Ecology Research
    • Pelagic-Benthic Coupling



Monterey Bay Aquarium TouristOcean Visualization

  • Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Science Operations Using Terrain-Relative Navigation
  • Benthic Biology and Ecology
  • Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System (CeNCOOS)
  • Continental Margin Processes
  • Cytometer Technology for Autonomous Platforms
  • Investigations of Imaging for Midwater Autonomous Platforms
  • Long-Range Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (LRAUV) Verification Imager
  • MB-System Software
  • Ocean Imaging
  • Submarine Volcanism
  • MBARI Deep Sea Research, Sleepy Huge Octopus, Scary Exploration and Discovery
    • Expedition to the Gulf of California
    • Applying Cloud Infrastructure to Data Analysis
    • In Situ Fluid Motions Using Particle Image Velocimetry
    • LRAUV: Coordinated Observations of Marine Organisms and Ocean Features
    • Ocean Chemistry of Greenhouse Gases
    • Photographic Benthic Observation System
    • Shallow-Water Free Ocean Carbon Dioxide Enrichment (FOCE) Science
  • Enabling Targeted Sampling
    • Sensors: Underwater Research of the Future (SURF) Center
    • Targeted Sampling by Autonomous Underwater Vehicles
  • Advancing a Persistent Presence
    • Aerostat Hotspot
    • Benthic Event Detectors
    • PowerBuoy Development
    • WaveGlider-Based Communications Hot Spot
  • Infrastructure Support
    • AUV Infrastructure Support
    • Full-Speed Dorado Simulator
    • Marine Operations Divisional Support
    • Mooring Maintenance
    • OASIS5 Controller
    • Precision Control Technologies for Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and AUVs
    • Ventana Control System Upgrade
    • WaveGlider Feasibility and Support Engineering
  • Core Data Streams
    • Core CTD Data
    • Core Mooring Data
    • Core Navigation Data
    • ROV Video Outline Annotation
  • Outreach
    • Education and Research: Testing Hypotheses
    • MBARI External Website Upgrade
    • SeeStar Camera System
    • Monterey Bay Aquarium-MBARI Partnership
    • Technology Transfer Observatory Software
    • Testing of Student-Developed Marine Systems