MBARI is able to support a limited number of location shoots and may grant film crews and photographers access to MBARI facilities, ships, and staff. We prioritize productions specifically about MBARI research that support our strategic education and outreach goals.

Because location shoots can be complicated, we require at least three weeks advance notice, and additional time may be required to coordinate shoots aboard our research vessels.

To request a location shoot at MBARI, please complete our online Media Request Form. Please review our Location Shoot Guidelines (below) prior to contacting our communications team.

MBARI requires a certificate of liability insurance and proof of worker’s compensation insurance for all production crews before they can film on site. As we navigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all guests will be required to provide proof of vaccination and must adhere to MBARI’s COVID-19 protocols.

MBARI Location Shoot Guidelines

MBARI is a non-profit private research organization. We may grant permission for a production company to film or photograph MBARI facilities or vessels for commercial purposes. We provide access to our facilities or vessels for projects that align with MBARI’s mission and educational goals, provided filming doesn’t hinder operations or detract from MBARI’s research activities.

All location shoots require MBARI’s location shoot agreement—signed by authorized representatives of MBARI and the production company—on file prior to filming. MBARI reserves the absolute right to grant or deny permission to film at our facilities and on our vessels and to determine the terms under which shooting will be permitted.

Advance Notice

At least three weeks advance notice is requested whenever possible. Given their more complicated nature, requests to film at sea on MBARI’s research vessels should be submitted at least two months in advance.

Site Requirements

Whenever possible, in advance of the shoot, MBARI’s communications team will facilitate a site tour and/or location scouting and a review of on-site requirements. If this isn’t possible, MBARI staff will review the production company’s requirements and propose appropriate locations for filming. The size of crew, number of talent, and amount of equipment must be agreed upon three days prior to the shoot date.

Use of Film and Photographs

The production company may use film and photographs shot at MBARI only for the purpose stated in the Location Agreement. The company may sell its final product for broadcast by others, but may not sell individual images shot at MBARI or provided by MBARI separate from its product. In addition, the company may not use images taken at or provided by MBARI in connection with productions which don’t directly involve MBARI, without its prior written consent.


The name “Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute,” acronym “MBARI,” and its gulper eel logo are trademarks owned by MBARI. Permission is granted to use these trademarks in the company’s final product without alteration. Written permission must be obtained from MBARI in writing to use any of these trademarks in promotional or other materials related to the final product.

Script Review

MBARI reserves the right to approve or deny use of its name or image in any context and to review the scripts for all scenes involving MBARI for factual accuracy.

MBARI’s Ownership

All film and photographs shot by MBARI cameras on MBARI vessels and vehicles shall belong to MBARI. Any requests for MBARI vessels’ and vehicles’ footage must be arranged with the MBARI communications team. MBARI will negotiate for this additional footage use in writing through a separate license agreement.

Company’s Ownership

Except as otherwise agreed in writing, all film and photographs shot by the production company shall belong to it.


The production company will acknowledge MBARI should it use any film or photographs shot at our facilities or on our research vessels.


The production company shall carry a comprehensive general liability insurance policy covering its obligations under this agreement and having limits of least $2,000,000 per occurrence and $2,000,000 aggregate. The production company shall have MBARI named as an additional insured on the policy and shall deliver a certificate of insurance to MBARI prior to commencement of the shoot. The production company shall also carry workers’ compensation insurance as required by law.

Location Fees

Location fees may be charged. Fees vary according to such factors as whether the project is commercial or non-profit in origin, the intended market, the potential promotional value to MBARI, the extent to which rights are shared with MBARI, the high cost of ship operations, and special requirements by the production company.


MBARI shall not be responsible for cancellation or delay of a shoot because of weather, mechanical difficulties, or any other reason. MBARI will not be liable for any costs incurred by the production company in connection with any cancellation or delay, such as wages of the film crew, equipment rental, and the like. MBARI shall endeavor to reschedule a canceled shoot, subject to the availability of its facilities and vessels. Because MBARI is first and foremost a research institute, the requirements of its scientists and engineers will always take priority, and MBARI cannot guarantee that another time convenient to the production company will be available.

Safety Guidelines

During filming at MBARI facilities or onboard its vessels, the production company’s film crew will follow strict safety guidelines as established by the ship’s captain and/or MBARI’s safety director.

COVID-19 Protocols

MBARI has implemented a number of protocols to protect our staff and guests from COVID-19. The production company will be required to provide proof of vaccination for all crew at least one week prior to arrival on site. The day of the location shoot, prior to arriving on site, all crew must submit a self certification form confirming they have not tested positive for an active COVID-19 infection and, to the best of their knowledge, they have not come in contact with anyone that has a confirmed COVID-19 infection over the past 10 days. MBARI may require face masks while indoors, with exceptions granted for filming on-camera interviews. MBARI reserves the right to change its COVID-19 protocols depending on current case rates.

Underwater Filming

Due to safety concerns for the unique dangers posed by at-sea operations of tethered remotely operated vehicles, MBARI doesn’t allow divers in the water with its vehicles for underwater filming.

Shipboard Authority

The ship’s captain is the ultimate authority onboard any MBARI vessel. The production company agrees that all its personnel will comply with all directions given by the captain.

Drone Use

Filming with a drone over MBARI facilities, including our research vessels at sea, requires additional coordination with multiple workgroups at MBARI. Requests for drone filming must be received at least two weeks prior to the requested flight date. The production company must submit the FAA registration number of the drone(s), the FAA license for pilot(s) in charge, proof of $1,000,000 liability insurance, release of liability, and pre- and post-flight plans. Please note special permitting from the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and/or California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) may be required for drone use in sensitive coastal environments around MBARI and at sea.

MBARI Prerogatives

The production company agrees to make any changes to its filming or to discontinue filming altogether if MBARI determines that the filming is disrupting its operations or that the potential for damage to people or to MBARI’s facilities or vessels exists.

Final Copies

One copy of the final production will be supplied to MBARI without charge for its historical archives and internal educational purposes.

Miscellaneous Policies

No smoking (including vaping), alcohol consumption, or recreational cannabis is allowed anywhere on MBARI property (indoors and outside), including our research vessels.

Location Filming Information

The production company may obtain information on permits or on location filming elsewhere in Monterey County by calling the Monterey County Film Commission at 831-646-0910 or at