Our Story

MBARI (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute) is a non-profit oceanographic research center founded in 1987 by the late Silicon Valley innovator and philanthropist David Packard. Our mission is to advance marine science and technology to understand a changing ocean.

MBARI’s “office” is Monterey Bay and its deep underwater canyon. Using advanced robots, we’re revealing the stunning community of life that thrives deep beneath the ocean’s surface.

Studying our blue backyard has revealed our connection to the ocean—how it sustains us and how our actions affect its future. Together with our education and conservation partner, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and our principal funder, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, we share our data and technology to advance ocean stewardship.

Innovate and Build

MBARI scientists and engineers work side by side to develop new technology to advance our understanding of the ocean. We’re creating innovative tools for a more sustainable future where autonomous robots and artificial intelligence can monitor ocean health in real time and help us visualize deep-sea animals and environments.

Explore and Protect

The ocean is the largest living space on our planet. It’s critical for all life on Earth, but it now faces a triple threat of climate change, pollution, and overfishing. MBARI researchers are answering fundamental questions about our changing ocean. Our research and data help inform ocean management and policy.

Inspire and Engage

MBARI shares our research, technology, and data with resource managers and policymakers to help guide their decision-making. We’re also committed to fostering a new generation of ocean explorers and inspiring the public to act on behalf of the ocean. We strive to make ocean science and engineering careers accessible to all.

An MBARI engineer in an orange life vest, dark navy shirt, and brown pants wearing glasses and a white hard hat inspects an orange-and-yellow-colored, torpedo-shaped, autonomous robot. The engineer is holding a yellow control switch for an overhead crane. The robot is suspended from two yellow nylon straps. A large test tank is in the background.
Autonomous robots developed by MBARI engineers can study the ocean in exciting new ways. Image: © 2022 MBARI
A team of six researchers sit in the darkened control room of an MBARI research vessel while watching a wall of video monitors streaming live video and data from a robotic submersible deployed in the deep sea. In the center, a submersible pilot wearing an olive shirt and a headset sits in a black leather chair and controls the robot with a black joystick. To the left is a second pilot in a red-and-green flannel shirt and headset observing screens displaying data from the ship and submersible.
Piloted from MBARI’s research vessels, underwater robots give us a glimpse into life in the deep sea. Image: Joost Daniels © 2019 MBARI
An MBARI researcher with shoulder-length blonde hair, black sunglasses, and a blue t-shirt holds a plastic box of supplies for a young visitor with shoulder-length blonde hair wearing a red hooded sweatshirt. The two are outdoors on a sunny day with other visitors and a science demonstration in the background.
MBARI’s Open House invites visitors to come learn about our latest deep-sea discoveries and technology. Image: Tyson Rininger © 2023 MBARI

Media Resources

MBARI creates and globally scales the research methods and technology required to explore, map, and understand our changing ocean. With Monterey Bay as our testbed, MBARI builds and applies a diverse range of tools to study parts of the ocean that are otherwise inaccessible. MBARI’s Ventana, the first of our fleet of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), has completed more than 4,500 dives, making it the most successful science-class ROV in the world and a catalyst for ocean innovation. We share our research results, technology, and data with the broader scientific community, resource managers, and policymakers to advance scientific understanding of the ocean and inspire protection of marine animals and environments. Here are just a few of the ways MBARI can help shape your stories:

  • Journalists covering the ocean’s role in mitigating the impacts of climate change can connect with MBARI to learn about the technology we use to observe, track, and predict the delicate balance of complex processes that sustain marine ecosystems. Our advanced underwater robots are taking the pulse of the ocean, revealing what’s happening from the surface to the seafloor to determine the pace and patterns of ocean change and forecast future ocean conditions.
  • Reporters writing about innovative advances in ocean exploration can tap MBARI experts to learn how technology is transforming our understanding of the deep sea and its inhabitants. Our scientists and their collaborators have described more than 220 new species, providing much-needed baseline data on deep-sea biodiversity. Advanced imaging systems developed by MBARI engineers are giving us an unprecedented look at delicate deep-sea drifters and the complex structure of the deep seafloor, while acoustic data collected by our underwater observatory have provided valuable new insight into the ecology of endangered whales.
  • Media interested in how artificial intelligence is enhancing ocean exploration will be interested in MBARI’s work to use AI to synthesize massive amounts of data to more efficiently assess and track changing ocean conditions. Our engineers have developed advanced sensing and imaging systems for observing ocean animals and habitats. We’ve meticulously cataloged our archive of nearly 30,000 hours of underwater video collected by these platforms, and now are leveraging AI to accelerate analysis of ocean visual data. We’re also leading a multi-institution effort to advance AI techniques for ocean exploration and conservation that will be available to the entire marine science community.

MBARI Experts

An MBARI engineer with long black hair and a gray-and-black flannel shirt standing in a darkened laboratory observes a computer screen while testing a laser imaging system. In the background is a work bench with a camera and bright red laser projecting into a clear acrylic box filled with water. The room has a dark pink glow.
MBARI researchers develop and apply innovative new technology to study our changing ocean. Image: Lori Eanes © Monterey Bay Aquarium

MBARI scientists and engineers are driven by a curiosity to learn more about the ocean and a passion to protect its future. Our researchers have fascinating stories to tell about their work and can lend vital perspective to your stories about the ocean. Here are just a few MBARI experts our SciComm Team can connect you with:

Ecologist James Barry studies life on the deep seafloor, from coral gardens to octopus nurseries. His work shows how climate change and changing ocean chemistry affect deep-sea communities.

Acoustic ecologist Kelly Benoit-Bird uses sound to study patterns among zooplankton, fish, squid, and marine mammals. Her work uses advanced acoustics to understand the largest migration on Earth and the ocean-climate connection.

Engineer David Caress develops new imaging technology that is transforming our ability to map the deep seafloor. An innovative sensor suite designed by MBARI engineers allows us to visualize the seafloor at one-centimeter resolution.

Engineer Brett Hobson develops nimble autonomous robots to scale up efforts to assess and track ocean health. MBARI’s long-range autonomous underwater vehicle is a versatile robot that can be equipped for a variety of science missions.

Engineer Kakani Katija uses advanced imaging systems to study the delicate structures of deep-sea animals and find bio-inspired solutions to engineering problems. She is also developing new AI tools to accelerate analysis of visual data collected by underwater robots.

With a new research vessel joining our fleet later this year and a robotic technology lab on the horizon, MBARI is poised to advance ocean science and tech innovation even further in 2024 and beyond. These are just a few of the dozens of MBARI experts ready to add their stories to yours.

To connect with an MBARI staff member or collect background information about our work, please reach out to our SciComm Team at pressroom@mbari.org.