Exploration and discovery

Exploration inevitably leads to discovery. MBARI is uniquely positioned to explore the deep-sea realm and its connections with the ocean surface. Easy access to Monterey Bay’s deep submarine canyon provides a natural laboratory for scientific research and engineering innovation. Developing and expanding our access to this undersea laboratory has been a primary theme since MBARI’s founding. Platforms and sensors for observing the deep ocean and for conducting interactively controlled in situ experiments are hallmarks of MBARI’s achievements. The continued use, development, and creative integration of these assets permit MBARI research teams to transcend many of the limitations faced by other scientists and engineers who endeavor to study marine environments.

Exploring Earth’s largest migration

These animals were collected in a container attached to the bottom of a Bongo net, which is towed through the water. Day catch (left) and night catch (right).

Each night, while cities sleep and children dream, the ocean comes alive. Billions of critters make their way toward the ocean surface in search of food, counting on the cover of darkness to keep them safe from hungry predators. This daily commute by tiny animals such as copepods, krill, and fish is known as diurnal vertical migration. It is the largest migration on Earth.

“It’s an enormous movement on their scale. If you scaled it to a human that’d be like running a 10K to get your dinner and then a 10K before you went to bed, and doing it at twice the speed of an Olympic marathon runner,” said Senior Scientist Kelly Benoit-Bird from MBARI.

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