Monterey Bay Aquarium illuminates the wonders of Earth’s largest living space and most mysterious habitats when its new exhibition, “Into the Deep: Exploring Our Undiscovered Ocean,” opens on April 9, 2022.
“Into the Deep,” a collaborative exhibition developed with the Aquarium’s research and technology partner MBARI (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute), offers an unparalleled descent from the ocean’s surface through the dark abyss of the midwater to the seafloor. Along the journey, the deep-sea exhibition — a fully bilingual experience in English and Spanish — offers a rare look at the animals that thrive in the least explored area of the planet, including species being displayed for the first time anywhere and some that are so new to science they have yet to be named.
“Connecting people with the astounding diversity of life found beneath the waves and inspiring conservation of the ocean is what Monterey Bay Aquarium was created to do,” said Julie Packard, executive director of the Aquarium. “This unprecedented exhibition tells the story of the deep sea and reveals the many ways the deep ocean sustains our lives on the surface.”
“Into the Deep” is only possible thanks to a generous $15 million donation from The Grainger Family Fund. The gift, which supported the full cost of developing “Into the Deep,” allowed the Aquarium team to continue work on the exhibition during the Aquarium’s 14-month pandemic closure.
“We are so grateful to the Grainger Family Fund for its vision and generosity, so we could complete the exhibition in such challenging times,” Julie Packard said.
“Into the Deep” transports visitors into the largest living space on Earth, telling stories of the creatures that live there, and the people and discoveries that are illuminating the last unexplored reaches of our planet. It highlights how the survival of all life on Earth is linked to the deep and the critical role it plays in sustaining a healthy ocean and stable climate. The exhibition also shows how deep-sea habitats face the same threats as the rest of the ocean — fishing pressure, habitat destruction, plastic pollution, and climate change — and why they need protection.
“Into the Deep” takes people on an exploration through exhibits of living deep-sea animals, interactive exhibits, and multimedia experiences:
- Entering “Into the Deep”: The exhibition starts with a transition from light-filled surface waters to a darker, deeper realm below.
- “Diving” down to the deep, guests discover how life at the surface depends on life far below, explore the geography of Monterey Bay’s spectacular underwater canyon, and meet the scientists, engineers, marine operators, and communicators at MBARI, which is a global leader of deep-sea exploration. Guests are then introduced to many of the unique animals of the deep sea through an immersive 4K video experience.
- The Midwater: Moving into a world of twilight, then midnight, visitors encounter delicate and beautiful animals that are perfectly evolved to survive in a world without light or boundaries, including the bloody-belly comb jelly and bioluminescent animals. Guests can immerse themselves in a bioluminescence experience with never-before-seen video footage and play an interactive video game that educates about midwater survival along with the serious problems plastic pollution causes animals that make their home here.
- The Seafloor: Finishing their “descent,” visitors come face-to-face with species that make their home in the seafloor habitats, including giant spider crabs, bone-eating worms, and giant isopods and get up close to hydrothermal vent and whalefall communities.
- As visitors metaphorically return to the “surface,” they see the questions researchers still have about the deep sea and how much scientists are still learning with updates from MBARI explorations.
“For most people, this is the first time they’ve ever seen a living deep-sea animal,” said Beth Redmond-Jones, vice president of exhibitions and facilities. “We want visitors to understand that these habitats, seemingly so distant from our lives and so different from the ocean we’re familiar with, are critically important to the health of our planet. We’re confident that ‘Into the Deep’ makes that connection and inspires people to learn more about the deep sea and support its conservation.”
The team at Monterey Bay Aquarium spent more than five years developing the 10,000-square-foot exhibition, the largest in North America to focus on deep-sea life. It’s an achievement built on the expertise and innovations of MBARI, whose scientists and engineers have been studying the deep ocean for more than three decades – from Monterey Bay to the Earth’s poles. The proximity of the mile-deep Monterey submarine canyon and the combination of resources and expertise led to several advancements necessary to realize “Into the Deep.”
The exhibition represents a breakthrough in aquarium animal care and life support. Innovations — like the most sophisticated water treatment system the Aquarium has ever designed — replicate the varied conditions needed by deep-sea animals. While all the animals on exhibit can survive at surface pressure, the life support systems created for the exhibition lower water temperatures, adjust pH, and reduce oxygen levels to sustain animals.
Discover more about “Into the Deep” and plan a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium website. Purchase single-day tickets or become Monterey Bay Aquarium members to see the exhibit first, have unlimited visits for a year, and support the nonprofit Aquarium’s conservation, education and research programs.