Seagoing tools

A great variety of tools are available to scientists during MBARI ocean research expeditions. Some technology is transferred from our many research collaborators, but the majority of our tools have been custom-designed and developed by engineers, scientists, and machine operations staff in-house. This is never a trivial task. All seagoing equipment must be specified to work in saltwater, in remote locations, and at extreme temperatures and depths. Equipment is thoroughly tested using a test tank located in our shore side facilities before being deployed at-sea.


Environmental Sample Processor (ESP)

The ESP is a robotic device that automates the collection of discrete water samples, and applies DNA and antibody analytical technologies to detect organisms and substances of interest.
The Deep-Sea Guide contains a wealth of images of seldom-seen deep-sea animals, such as this galatheid crab.

Deep-Sea Guide

The Deep-Sea Guide, created by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), provides easy access to the institute’s database of millions of records of deep-sea animals, seafloor habitats, geological features, and research tools.
Midwater Respirometer

Midwater Respirometer System

By studying an animal’s respiration (how much oxygen it consumes), scientists can better understand how much energy (food) it needs to live.

Wave Glider-based communications hotspot

One of the major themes of MBARI’s current research is the increasing dependence on real-time data for informed decision-making during the course of field experiments.

Wax-tipped corer

This device is used to collect volcanic glass fragments from the surface of a flow. It is made of about 250kg of steel and is launched over the stern of the ship on a wire. Fragments of rock that break off of the lava flow on impact are trapped in wax-tipped cones mounted around the crusher. The wax is melted in the lab to liberate the rock particles for analysis.


Vibracoring is a common technique used to obtain samples from water-saturated sediment. These corers work by attaching a motor that induces high frequency vibrations in the core liner that in turn liquefies the sediment directly around the core cutter, enabling it to pass through the sediment with little resistance.

Video Annotation and Reference System

The Video Annotation and Reference System (VARS) is a software interface and database system that provides tools for describing, cataloging, retrieving, and viewing the visual, descriptive, and quantitative data associated with MBARI’s deep-sea video archives.

At Sea

Research Vessel Western Flyer
2016 departure/arrival times
Research Vessel Rachel Carson
Research Vessel Paragon
Emergencies and contacts
Onboard cruise log
Policies and operating guidelines
Cruise planning
Marine operations policies
Departure/arrival times
Early departure
Elevator payload limits
Hazardous materials
Homer beacon policies
Lab use and chemical safety
NILSPIN ™ oceanographic ropes
Push core policies and description
RHIB operations
Rigging policy
Science party size
Cruise planning
R/V Western Flyer cruise planning
Checklist of Supplies
Cruises outside home port
Data and video: formats and specifics
Departure/arrival times
early departure
Hazardous materials
Precruises and postcruises
RHIB operations
ROV dive time definitions
ROV users checklist
Safety Management System
Science party guidelines
Scuba diving
Ship to shore communications
R/V Rachel Carson cruise planning
R/V Paragon cruise planning
Marine operations policies
Remotely operated vehicles
ROV Ventana
ROV Doc Ricketts
Mini remotely operated vehicle (ROV)
Autonomous underwater vehicles
Gulper autonomous underwater vehicle
Seafloor mapping AUV
Long-range autonomous underwater vehicle Tethys
Investigations of imaging for midwater autonomous platforms
Benthic Rover
Autonomous surface vehicles
Wave Glider
Wave Glider-based communications hotspot
2015 Expeditions
2014 Expeditions
2013 Expeditions
2012 Expeditions
Cabled observatory
About MARS
MARS contacts
MARS science experiments
How to connect to MARS
MARS contacts
How to interface
MARS site description
MARS instrument deployment
MARS biology
MARS technology
MARS connector wiring
MARS node description
More ocean observatory resources
Local notice to mariners
Mooring data
Research tools
Administration & planning
Cruise planning
Marine operations technicians
Marine operations policies