The Hidden Ocean: Visualizing the Conditions for Life


Though we live on a blue planet, the ocean is vast and largely unexplored. As scientists have begun to map its vast underwater worlds, they have discovered many ways in which the ocean makes life on Earth possible. Not only does the ocean regulate climate worldwide, but human well-being and the global economy are intimately connected to the health of ocean ecosystems.


This program was originally presented at the California Academy of Sciences’ Morrison Planetarium (San Francisco, CA) on September 5, 2013 during the Academy’s NightLife event. Audiences were taken on an immersive journey from deep space to the deep blue sea, visualizing previously invisible relationships that are shifting perspectives on the extraordinary conditions of our home planet. The live presentation was guided by Bart Shepherd, Director of the Steinhart Aquarium, and David McConville, Creative Director of the Worldviews Network. After the presentation, audience members participated in a dialogue with scientists and entrepreneurs about the ways in which human activities are affecting the ocean, including how scientific research and entrepreneurial approaches are creating new opportunities to increase both human and ocean well-being.



Program Kit

Storyboard & AssetsSeeKnowDoCredits

Script & Storyboard

Installer Download

Data Sources

Future of Our Oceans (CAS)

Academy researchers and biologists discuss the possible future of the world’s oceans.


Dynamic Earth (NASA)

An animation showing the sun blasting out a coronal mass ejection, the Earth being shielded from this by its powerful magnetic field, and the dynamics of ocean and wind currents.

Ocean Acidification (CAS)

Ocean acidification is ‘the other carbon problem’– a process by which greenhouse gases dissolve in the ocean, changing the conditions for life across our water planet. In this video, scientists discuss the impacts of this massive change in water chemistry around the planet.


Science in Action: Philippine Deep Sea Expedition (CAS)

The California Academy of Sciences’ expedition to the Philippines discovered unusual treasures at great depths.


Science in Action: Discoveries in the Philippines (CAS)

Academy scientists spent this 2011 spring in the Philippines, documenting the country’s rich biodiversity with local scientists. Their results hope to bolster conservation efforts in the area.


Collecting Coral: 2011 Philippine Biodiversity Expedition (CAS)

Steinhart Aquarium biologists are shown collecting small cuttings of coral fragments on the California Academy of Sciences 2011 Philippine Biodiversity Expedition. These fragments were legally exported from the Philippines and brought into cultivation as part of the Academy’s efforts at sustainable collection-building. These small cuttings will be grown into larger colonies, which can then be fragmented to produce corals for display, in-house research projects and exchange with other zoos and aquaria. Exchanging captive-propagated corals is one way that we are able to reduce collection pressures on wild reefs.


Coral Bleaching (CAS)

We may be the last generation to see Coral Reefs as we know them. Most of the color that you see in the coral is due to the symbiotic algae, not actually the coral.


Reefs to Rainforests: The Great Expedition (CAS)

A production about CalAcademy research by ABC 7.

Planet Ocean (Omega)

Trailer for a 90-minute documentary capturing the extraordinary images of our remarkable oceans – the source of all life on our planet.

Coral Reefs: good for marine life, good for us (WWF)

Coral reefs are home to a quarter of the world’s marine life. But reefs aren’t just good for fish. 450 million people need them for food, jobs and protection of the sea. But climate change, pollution and over-fishing are trashing reefs everywhere. A quarter of the world’s coral reefs are damaged beyond repair.

How life begins in the deep ocean (TEDEducation)

Where do squid, jellyfish and other sea creatures begin life? The story of a sea urchin reveals a stunningly beautiful saga of fertilization, development and growth in the ocean depths.

The Importance of Upwelling (OneOceanOnline)

Understanding the ecosystem created by the movement of water from bottom to top.

After the Fish Are Gone (Prime Collective)

Meet Piolin, who stated fishing as a teenager in the small town of Kino. After a long day of work, he sits in his hammock near the shore and talks about what his life on the sea means to him.

Diversity and Evolution of Coral Reef Fishes (CAS)

Dr. Luiz Rocha. Dr. Rocha’s research interests center on the evolution, biogeography, and ecology of coral reef fishes. His overarching goal is to understand what drives the extremely high biodiversity found in tropical reefs.






  • David McConville (The Elumenati)
  • Bart Shepherd (CAS)


  • Ned Gardiner (NOAA)
  • Kathi Koontz (CAS)
  • David McConville (The Elumenati)
  • Bart Shepherd (CAS)
  • Ryan Wyatt (CAS)

Science Advisors

  • Meg Burke (CAS)
  • Ned Gardiner (NOAA)
  • Healy Hamilton (Marine Conservation Institute)
  • Ellen Hines (San Francisco State University)
  • Bart Shepherd (CAS)

GIS & Visualizations

  • Ned Gardiner (NOAA)
  • Healy Hamilton (Marine Conservation Institute)
  • Kathi Koontz (CAS)
  • Greg Mancari (DMNS)
  • Cynthia Powell (CalFlora)
  • Drew Stephens (ESRI)
  • Dan Tell (CAS)
  • Ka Chun Yu (DMNS)

Creative Direction

  • David McConville (The Elumenati)

Production Coordination

  • Kathi Koontz (CAS)

Technical Support

  • David McConville (The Elumenati)
  • Ryan Wyatt (CAS)


Many thanks thanks to the following folks for helping us to identify relevant data sources:

  • Drew Stephens (Esri Oceans Industry Manager)