Important notes regarding these data

MBARI’s deep-sea still images, video footage, and any related data are primarily used to support our scientific research, education, and outreach goals.

Media inquiries for news, feature stories, and productions that focus specifically on MBARI research and technology will be considered and should be directed to our Pressroom (see Contacts).

We do not allow use of our still images or video footage for commercial endeavors including, but not limited to, advertisements, stock collections, websites, picture books, etc. Nor do we supply materials for projects that we determine do not align with our research objectives.

Data use policy

Use of these data, in their original or any derivative form, is limited to the internal research activities of the Collaborator only. For use in any publication and related uses [including, but not limited to, your own website, blog, or video channel (e.g. YouTube), or any third-party data repository, institutional website, or media coverage], authors must obtain written permission from MBARI’s Video Lab Manager, Nancy Jacobsen Stout (see Contacts). When permission is granted, authors should acknowledge MBARI as the data source in those publications by including the following citation:

Schlining, B.M. and N. Jacobsen Stout (2006). MBARI’s video annotation and reference system. Proceedings of the Marine Technology Society/Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Oceans Conference, Boston, MA, pp. 1-5.

Also, it is generally expected that any science publication relying heavily on information or interpretation from an MBARI researcher(s) will acknowledge the researchers, typically by including them as collaborators and co-authors when their contribution has been significant.

Ownership and warranties

The data and the copyright to these data are and shall remain the property of MBARI. MBARI provides these data “as is”, with no warranty, express or implied, of the data quality or consistency. It is provided without support and without obligation on the part of the MBARI to assist in its use, correction, modification, or enhancement.


MBARI typically embargoes all annotation and related data for two years for internal quality control and analysis. Extensions to the embargo period are sometimes granted for specific data sets, which are actively undergoing review and analysis for publication. The majority of annotations and related data older than two years are made available through the VARS query system, but it should not be assumed that these data are representative of the entire MBARI VARS annotation database.

Data characteristics and quality control

Though they have proven to have great inherent and inferred scientific value, the observational data found in the VARS database were not always collected using systematic research procedures. Among other factors, biases have been introduced as a result of differing camera capabilities, mission objectives, budgetary circumstances, environmental conditions, and as well as evolving science terminology and observational techniques. Our internal VARS annotation program is used to consistently characterize video observations. Our annotation staff continually enriches the database contents by adding concept names, descriptive, and visual information as our knowledge grows over time.

Due to this dynamic process, the data provided by MBARI’s video annotation database are continuously undergoing updates to reflect quality control and other improvements.

For these reasons, we do not advise that any specific data sets obtained from the VARS query system be considered for scientific publication purposes without first obtaining appropriate written verification from MBARI. Please contact us for additional information on data review and distribution.

By accessing, downloading, or using theses data for your research, you acknowledge that you understand the unique characteristics and limitations of these data, and you agree to our terms of use.


To request images, video, and related data for research, educational, and media purposes, please submit a Media Request Form