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.

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.

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.

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.