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MBARI and Santa Cruz METRO team up to raise awareness about the amazing animals of the deep

A Santa Cruz METRO bus wrapped in MBARI’s images of deep-sea animals will help raise awareness about protecting local marine wildlife by riding public transit. Image: Andrew O’Keefe/ © Santa Cruz METRO

MBARI and Santa Cruz METRO team up to raise awareness about the amazing animals of the deep

MBARI’s advanced underwater robots are revealing the amazing animals that thrive in the depths of Monterey Bay. Cameras on our robotic submersibles have captured stunning images and video of giant jellies, towering corals, and other denizens of the deep. Now, this imagery is helping raise awareness about the deep sea in Santa Cruz County.

A new collaboration between MBARI and the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District (METRO) introduces bus riders to the amazing animals of the deep. METRO’s acclaimed environmental awareness campaign, One Ride at a Time, now includes a bus wrapped in images of deep-sea animals taken by MBARI’s robotic submersibles.

“MBARI’s underwater robots have revealed the stunning diversity of life that thrives in the depths of Monterey Bay. These are our neighbors that dwell in our blue backyard. We hope meeting these amazing animals inspires us all to think about our connection to the ocean and how we can help protect deep-sea animals and environments from threats like climate change,” said MBARI Science Communication and Content Manager Susan von Thun.

One Ride at a Time seeks to showcase the environmental benefits of transit, encourage bus ridership, and protect Santa Cruz County’s extraordinary natural resources, including its unique and fragile deep-sea ecosystem just offshore in Monterey Bay.

“We are so fortunate to welcome MBARI to the ‘One Ride at a Time’ team,” said Danielle Glagola, METRO Marketing and Communications Director. “Their technology allows everyone in Santa Cruz County to have an unparalleled glimpse into the beautiful and fascinating deep-sea world that lives in our blue backyard.”

An MBARI remotely operated vehicle underwater. The robotic submersible has a bright yellow float on top of a black metal frame with a pair of black metal manipulator arms, a large camera, and a number of colored wires. The robot was photographed shortly after deployment, with its tether visible at the top of the photo. Bright blue water and one of the twin hulls of an MBARI research ship are visible in the background.
MBARI’s advanced underwater robots, like the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Doc Ricketts, capture stunning images and video of deep-sea animals and environments. Image: Randy Prickett and Erich Rienecker © 2018 MBARI

Monterey Bay and its deep underwater canyon teem with life, but Central Coast residents rarely get to see these neighbors that live in the bay’s inky depths. MBARI’s remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) are illuminating life in the deep sea. Operated from a control room in the heart of one of MBARI’s research ships, a team of pilots and scientists steers the submersible as it explores the depths below. MBARI’s ROVs have completed more than 7,300 scientific dives in Monterey Bay and beyond, and recorded more than 28,400 hours of video. Cameras on MBARI’s ROVs film deep-sea animals and communities in stunning 4K ultra high-definition detail.

METRO’s new bus features larger-than-life images of some of the remarkable residents of Monterey Bay’s deep submarine canyon, from a crimson comb jelly discovered by MBARI scientists to a living fossil that dwells in the twilight zone.

“Our connection to the ocean runs deep,” said von Thun. “Actions we take on land ripple to the ocean’s depths. The ocean is changing and, now more than ever, deep-sea animals need our help to survive. We hope meeting the animals of the deep inspires commuters to reflect on ways we can protect ocean animals and environments.”

MBARI joins renowned wildlife photographers Frans Lanting, Jodi Frediani, and Kevin Lohman in supplying the campaign with breathtaking images of the animal and plant species that depend on the Monterey Bay ecosystem for their survival. By the end of 2024, about 30 wrapped buses featuring inspiring images of birds of prey, whales, sea otters, deep-sea animals, mountain lions, redwoods, and more will be traveling throughout Santa Cruz County.

The front of a large black bus parked along the Santa Cruz coastline. The bus features large images of animals, including a transparent squid, a red jelly, a white rope-like siphonophore, and a brown fish. The bus also has large white text reading “Protecting Our Deep Sea.” This photo shows the bus parked on dry gray asphalt with blue sky and wispy white clouds in the background.
A new bus wrapped in MBARI’s deep-sea images joins a fleet of wildlife-themed buses as part of Santa Cruz METRO’s One Ride at a Time environmental education campaign. Image: Andrew O’Keefe/ © Santa Cruz METRO

Through One Ride at a Time, every ride on a METRO bus donates to METRO’s partners in protecting the environment—the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and the Bay of Life Fund. 

Every ride on a METRO bus takes cars off the road and significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, METRO is converting its entire bus fleet to zero-emissions buses (ZEBs). At the end of 2023, METRO had nine ZEBs deployed in the county with more coming every year. To date, seven of the wrapped One Ride at a Time buses are ZEBs. Visit to learn more about METRO’s strides toward increasing bus ridership and transitioning to a zero-emissions fleet.

To participate in METRO’s One Ride at a Time program visit and start logging your trips today. Logging 25 trips is equal to a $10 donation to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Foundation or the Bay of Life Fund, thanks to program partner GO Santa Cruz.

One Ride at a Time is made possible by a partnership between METRO, Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (SCCRTC), local environmental non-profit organizations the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and the Bay of Life Fund, renowned photographer-writer team Frans Lanting and Chris Eckstrom, Jodi Frediani, Kevin Lohman, and MBARI.

Adapted from a press release from the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District (METRO). For additional information or images relating to this news story, please email