Dive into the deep with the Monterey Bay Aquarium

A collection of rarely-seen deep-sea animals will soon be the centerpiece of a new exhibition at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. When it opens in the spring of 2022, visitors to Into the Deep: Exploring our Undiscovered Ocean may come face-to-face with beautiful bloody-belly comb jellies, towering bubblegum corals, lumbering Japanese spider crabs, and much more. The exhibition will be larger and include a greater diversity of species than its precursor, Mysteries of the Deep, which ran from 1999 to 2003.

Aquarists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium carefully collect and care for a variety of deep-sea animals in order to bring visitors to the exhibition face-to-face with these incredible organisms. Image: George Matsumoto © MBARI

The deep sea is the largest living space on Earth, and the foundation for a healthy, functioning ocean. The Aquarium’s goal with Into the Deep is to inspire conservation of this critical habitat by connecting people to this mysterious realm. Though it seems distant from human influence, the deep sea is impacted by human activities. It faces the same threats as the rest of the ocean—fishing pressure, habitat destruction, plastic pollution, and climate change—but is less resilient to those kinds of disturbances. The Aquarium is in a unique position to tell the story of the deep sea to a global audience as threats to the ocean have descended into its darkest reaches.

The exhibition will showcase findings of MBARI’s scientific work to understand how deep-sea ecosystems are changing in the face of escalating human impact, and how new discoveries in science and engineering will provide the roadmap to sustaining ocean health. Innovative tools that scientists and engineers use to explore the deep and measure impacts from threats like plastic pollution and climate change will also be displayed.

This breathtaking exhibition is made possible by partnering the Aquarium’s animal-care expertise with MBARI’s technology and scientific knowledge.

The opening of Into the Deep was delayed a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though the Aquarium was required to remain closed to visitors for more than a year, the exhibit and animal care teams continued to prepare the exhibition and perfect their techniques for keeping the animals alive and healthy so that the public can learn about the fragile, but largely unexplored deep sea.

Aquarists have advanced the science of caring for deep-ocean animals, made nighttime dives, and gone to sea on MBARI’s research vessel Rachel Carson to collect species never-before-exhibited at the Aquarium.

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