2023 Annual Report
An MBARI staff member wearing sunglasses, a blue t-shirt with a white MBARI logo on the back, a brown belt, and jeans speaks to a crowd of approximately 18 people outdoors on the MBARI dock. MBARI research equipment is visible on the right and a plastic white stanchion with plastic white chains separates the staff member from Open House visitors.

MBARI’s Open House returned in 2023, welcoming our neighbors to our research facilities in Moss Landing, California, to meet our team and learn about our latest deep-sea discoveries and technology innovations. Image: Todd Walsh © 2023 MBARI

Inspiring the next generation of ocean explorers

Education and outreach are central to MBARI’s mission. We share our research, technology, and data with resource managers and policymakers to help guide their decision-making. We are also committed to fostering a new generation of ocean explorers and inspiring the public to act on behalf of the ocean. We strive to make ocean science and engineering careers accessible to all. Community outreach is critical to our work.

After a four-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MBARI’s annual Open House returned in 2023. This free, family-friendly community event offers an opportunity to learn about MBARI’s latest ocean discoveries and technology innovations.

Open House visitors could explore two dozen interactive booths. Visitors had the chance to test their skills building and piloting an underwater robot, get an up-close look at MBARI’s fleet of deep-sea robots, tap into their creativity with an assortment of crafts and activities, preview the new FathomVerse video game, take a selfie with our 12-foot inflatable vampire squid, and much more.

But most importantly, the Open House provided an opportunity for visitors to chat with MBARI scientists, engineers, marine operators, and science communication experts and learn about careers in marine science and engineering.

Organized by the MBARI SciComm Team, the 2023 Open House was our most well-attended event to date with a steady stream of visitors all afternoon. Visitors from across the Monterey Bay and beyond raved about the return of this popular event. Preparations are already underway for the next Open House on Saturday, July 13, 2024.

The Open House was just one of many outreach activities for the MBARI team in 2023.

Last spring, a new collaboration for MBARI’s Ocean Soundscape Team brought a symphony of underwater sounds to San Francisco.

The ocean echoes with a complex and continuously changing mosaic of sound. This underwater soundscape offers a wealth of information about ocean life and health–and serves as a source of inspiration. Ocean sound recordings are a powerful way for people to connect with the magnificent life forms that dwell largely beneath the waves and beyond our senses.

Last April, the Ocean Soundscape Team took part in a special Earth Day sound bath inside San Francisco’s historic Grace Cathedral, featuring a composition deeply rooted in world music, punctuated by ocean “voices” recorded by MBARI’s acoustic technology.

Sound bath participants lie on yoga mats and sit in wooden pews inside Grace Cathedral. The gothic cathedral’s stone pillars are illuminated in purple light and the cathedral’s altar is illuminated in yellow and red lights.
In honor of Earth Day, Grace Cathedral partnered with MBARI for a special sound bath that immersed participants in the ocean soundscape and world music. Image courtesy of Over Power Productions

Whales are Earth’s largest musical composers. They sing powerfully into the vast sea where their voices travel great distances. The special sound bath sought to recreate the ocean’s vastness and fluidity on land. The acoustic art created by Fractals of Sound was a powerful affective experience that connected Bay Area audiences to the ocean at a primal level. The gothic cathedral’s unique acoustics, soaring nave, and jewel-like stained-glass windows set the stage for a deeply meditative sonic journey.

For ocean enthusiasts who were unable to attend the sound bath, MBARI continuously streams live underwater audio to the Soundscape Listening Room. The listening room also includes archived sounds, from the complex song compositions of humpback whales to the chatter of dolphin pods.

Sound is a natural way for people to experience and learn about the marine environment and the ocean inhabitants that produce sound. MBARI’s unique audio recordings also inspire the public about the wonders of the ocean.

The Ocean Soundscape Team has worked with NOAA’s Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary to support educational exhibits at the Sanctuary Exploration Center in Santa Cruz, California. Numerous academic and non-profit partners have incorporated underwater audio from MBARI in exhibitions at other venues. A mobile sound system enriches invited lectures and presentations, such as the Whalefest Monterey 2023 symposium, with the sounds of marine life. And MBARI’s recordings have traveled the world with the Sounds of the Ocean, an immersive experience that blends art, music, dance, and multimedia for ocean conservation and was featured at COP28 in Dubai last December.

The MBARI SciComm Team seeks to connect audiences around the world with our work.

The team creates and shares content about MBARI’s research and technology to inspire curiosity about the natural world and love for the ocean. By sharing stories about our ocean exploration on MBARI’s website, social media platforms, and with the media, our content reaches diverse audiences across the United States and around the world. We aim to make MBARI’s work more broadly accessible and create a culture of inclusive science communication in our communities.

“We hope meeting our team, whether in person or through our social media platforms, will inspire a new generation of ocean explorers.”
—Science Communication and Content Manager Susan von Thun

In 2023, the SciComm Team introduced a new video series celebrating the wide variety of careers at MBARI. Meet MBARI explores a day in the office at MBARI. The series is an insider’s look at our team’s work.

By featuring staff from across the institute, working in different roles, we dispel the misconception of a scientist in a traditional lab coat and educate our audiences about the wide array of ocean science and technology careers. Focusing on staff in different roles also shows how our mission is enriched by people with different disciplines, skills, and lived experiences. Our goal is to tell stories through video that showcase how MBARI thrives by bringing together people with diverse perspectives and approaches to solve the problems our ocean faces. These videos can act as a recruitment tool, inspire young ocean explorers, and help us tell stories about our team in new, meaningful ways.

A scientist wearing a blue shirt, a red hard hat, and an orange life vest adjusts brightly colored instruments at the top of a black, cylindrical float. The float is held in place by a silver metal pulley and yellow mesh straps. This photograph was taken outdoors with the harbor and blue sky visible in the background.
By introducing audiences to members of the MBARI team, we aim to inspire a new generation to pursue careers in ocean exploration. Image: Lori Eanes © Monterey Bay Aquarium

The series debuted with an episode about Scientist Colleen Durkin, who leads MBARI’s Carbon Flux Ecology Team. This team studies the important role of the ocean in Earth’s carbon cycle and climate. Working with our engineers, they developed cutting-edge cameras and other tools to learn how deep-sea ecosystems transform carbon sinking from the surface.

The second episode profiled Jose Rosal, who leads MBARI’s Manufacturing Group. This team works closely with our scientists and engineers to bring their ideas to life in the form of robots and other high-tech instruments. Their diverse set of skills turns raw metals into technology that can withstand the harsh conditions of the deep sea.

An episode about Principal Engineer Kakani Katija and the Bioinspiration Lab showcased MBARI’s efforts to bring the lab to the ocean. This team creates new high-tech tools to study how deep-sea animals survive in a deep, cold, and dark environment. The team hopes to help find bioinspired solutions to some of the world’s biggest engineering challenges.

Yui Takeshita and the Ocean Biogeochemical Sensing Team were featured in the series’ fourth episode. This team develops sensors to better understand the ocean’s changing chemistry. They deploy autonomous robots to measure and monitor these changes and understand how ocean acidification affects ecosystems from the coast to the open sea.

Development continues on new episodes for 2024, including episodes about our marine operations team and Video Lab. Watch episodes from the series on our Meet MBARI page.

The MBARI SciComm Team invites audiences around the world to join us virtually as we continue to explore the depths of Monterey Bay and beyond in 2024. Keep up with the latest MBARI research and findings by following MBARI on social media, and subscribe to our newsletter for updates on community events our team has planned for 2024.

Inspiring awe and action by sharing stories from the deep sea

A new MBARI video and web series uses stunning video and accessible narratives to connect audiences to deep-sea animals and inspire ocean stewardship.