April 7, 2015

New exhibit takes visitors on a virtual ROV dive into Monterey Canyon

Mission to the Deep exhibit at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Visitors at the Monterey Bay Aquarium enter the new “Mission to the Deep” exhibit, which features MBARI deep-sea research. Photo: Kim Fulton-Bennett (c) 2015 MBARI

What’s it like to explore the depths of Monterey Canyon using an underwater robot? Visitors to the Monterey Bay Aquarium can find out in a new exhibit and auditorium program that highlight MBARI’s deep-sea research. The new exhibit, “Mission to the Deep,” features a virtual dive into Monterey Canyon using a replica of MBARI’s deep-diving robotic vehicle, the Doc Ricketts. In the new auditorium program, visitors learn how MBARI scientists use a variety of high-tech robots to study the diversity of ocean life, from microscopic algae to vampire squids.

Entering the new MBARI exhibit, visitors are immersed in a virtual underwater world. As a scale model of MBARI’s ROV Doc Ricketts rotates overhead, a 360-degree video projection system displays animals and underwater robots deep in Monterey Canyon. In this otherworldly setting, visitors discover how MBARI’s scientists and engineers use a variety of revolutionary new technologies to study the ocean. At the center of the exhibit, interactive displays allow visitors to perform their own ROV dives, stopping at different depths to learn more about animals and MBARI research equipment in the deep sea.

Visitors can learn even more about MBARI in the aquarium’s newly revised auditorium program “Exploring the Deep Sea.” Featuring live narration and stunning high-definition video, the program highlights the challenges of studying the deep sea and the amazing underwater technology that MBARI researchers use in their research. The program also gives visitors a big-picture view of MBARI’s history and the institute’s ongoing research efforts to understand our changing oceans.

Engineer Farley Shane with model of ROV Doc Ricketts

Mechanical Engineer Farley Shane was part of a team from MBARI that helped construct a model of a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) for the new “Mission to the Deep” exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Photo: Kim Fulton-Bennett (c) 2014 MBARI

The new exhibit and auditorium programs, which opened on March 28, 2015, are the result of almost a year of planning and preparation by staff at the aquarium and at MBARI. MBARI scientists contributed their scientific expertise and spectacular underwater videos. MBARI engineers designed and built the model of the Doc Ricketts, as well as the automated mechanisms that animate the model.

George Matsumoto, a marine biologist at MBARI, spent many hours planning the exhibit and the auditorium program. “Working with the talented aquarium exhibit team was a rewarding and engaging experience,” he said. “The aquarium provides us with an unparalleled outlet for education and outreach.”

Raúl Nava, a senior exhibit developer at the aquarium, commented, “MBARI is so much more than discovering unusual animals. This exhibit shows how the institute is studying the pulse of the ocean, as well as learning about its incredible—and fragile—biodiversity. We can’t protect the deep sea if we don’t know what’s down there.”

For additional information or images relating to this article, please contact: Kim Fulton-Bennett
831-775-1835, kfb@mbari.org