Instituto Mar Urbano (IMU)

Founded in 2017, the Instituto Mar Urbano is a non-governmental organization based on and inspired by the experience of its director, biologist and filmmaker Ricardo Gomes. The preservation of an extremely resistant ecosystem, Baía de Guanabara, is the institute’s main goal, and it is highlighted in one of its most important documentaries, called “Urban Bay.”

The institute now works in the areas of research, environmental education and scientific dissemination, producing audiovisual content, educational materials and exhibitions on social networks. Watching the institute’s videos is like taking a dive in the waters of Rio de Janeiro and Brazil, allowing you to observe the rich diversity of marine organisms that fight daily for their survival, not only due to natural factors, but also because of the impacts caused every day by humanity.

In line with its mission of bringing people closer to nature, the institute gives civil society a different look at diversity, encouraging reflection on current environmental problems. The aim is to spread sustainable practices and break down barriers between science and society, to ensure the conservation of marine biodiversity.


Sponsored by OceanPact, the Instituto Mar Urbano carries out activities to raise awareness about the biodiversity of Rio’s waters.

Every week, the Instituto Mar Urbano posts news about its activities and important information of public interest. Follow the institute on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

Text written by Ricardo Gomes, founder of Instituto Mar Urbano


Main Activities Supported by OceanPact

“Urban Bay” documentary

“Urban Bay” is an environmental documentary that explores one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World: Baía de Guanabara. Launched in 2017, the film offers a pioneering look at the richness and resilience of local marine life, stimulating reflection on the need to preserve one of the world’s most beautiful but also most polluted bays.

The documentary shows that in order to preserve Baía de Guanabara, we need to understand those who live around it.

It has won several prizes:

  • Filmambiente 2019, Brazil – Best Film, Public Choice category.
  • International Environmental Cinema Festival 2017, Serra da Estrela, Portugal – Camacho Costa Portuguese Language Film Award.
  • • International Short Film Festival 2018, Bangalore, India – Best Documentary.

You can watch “Urban Bay” (titled “Baía Urbana” in Portuguese) on Globosat’s Off Docs channel.

Espaço Azul, located at the Z-13 Artisanal Fishing Colony Visitors’ Center in Copacabana
Espaço Azul

Espaço Azul is an environmental education center on Copacabana Beach, sponsored by OceanPact. It was created and it is managed by the Instituto Mar Urbano. It is based at the Z-13 Artisanal Fishing Colony Visitors’ Center in Copacabana.

The center raises awareness about the environment in a fun, interactive and engaging way, through exhibitions, scientific research, and informative and transformative activities.

The project is aligned with the United Nations’ Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, or “Ocean Decade,” which is aimed at informing society of the urgent need for measures to improve the health and sustainability of the planet’s seas.

Espaço Azul is designed to encourage the people of Rio to adopt a sea culture and not just a beach culture. Periodically, thematic exhibitions are held that address the diversity of local marine life and the risks it faces.

Discover Espaço Azul!
Open from Wednesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 5 pm.


Every year, thousands of tons of waste are dumped into the sea in Brazil. Accordingly, cleanups are educational measures to mobilize people and make them aware of the risks of excessive consumption and single-use plastic, as well as how to dispose of waste properly.

The institute carries out monthly cleanups on beaches, on the water surface and underwater in different locations across the city of Rio de Janeiro. They are supported by various stakeholders, such as other institutes, partner organizations and volunteers.

The Urban Sea Institute’s team often organizes cleanups. This one was attended by one of the institute’s young ambassadors, Nina Gomes.
PlastiTox Expedition

“The PlastiTox Expedition” is a mini documentary made as part of a partnership between the Instituto Mar Urbano, the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro State (UNIRIO) and OceanPact. The film looks at a research project carried out by scientists from UNIRIO, who are mapping the concentration of microplastic in different types of marine organisms. Conducted in Rio de Janeiro’s waters, the study is a pioneering initiative aimed at identifying the organisms that are most harmed by the presence of microplastic in marine environments.

You can watch the mini documentary on the Instituto Mar Urbano’s

“Expedição PlastiTox” is a mini documentary presented by Ricardo Gomes, about a research project under way through a partnership between researchers at UNIRIO, the Instituto Mar Urbano and OceanPact. The project is mapping the concentration of microplastic in marine organisms in Rio de Janeiro.
Rays of Guanabara Expedition

The Rays of Guanabara Expedition is a long-term project carried out by the Instituto Mar Urbano, to map ray species throughout the coast of the state of Rio de Janeiro. By performing dives, monitoring fish landings and actively searching with drones, among other technologies, the initiative aims to share the diversity of rays with the people of Rio de Janeiro. These sea creatures are highly threatened by unintentional fishing and they are also widely consumed across Brazil, but little is known about the bioecological patterns of these species or even their number in the state of Rio de Janeiro.

Rays and sharks are large cartilaginous fish that take a long time to mature and have few offspring. They tend to have large amounts of contaminants in them, as they are at the top of the food chain. They are often fished accidentally, when confused with dogfish.

At the moment, Baía de Guanabara is rated the world’s fifth richest location in terms of diversity of sharks and rays. In fact, during this project, around 10 different ray species have so far been observed in or close to the bay (as presented in a document called “Simplified Identification Guide for Guanabara Bay’s Rays”), so the region may be even.

Guanabara Rays Identification Guide
Comic Book

Inspired by the documentary “Urban Bay,” a 10-year-old environmental activist called Mariana has now produced her second comic book, in which she helps Rick (Ricardo Gomes, the Instituto Mar Urbano’s director) save the marine life of Baía de Guanabara. During the story, Mariana returns Rick’s lost camera and they together take a dive in the bay, observing its rich diversity of sea creatures and seeing how they have been affected by urban development.

An event to launch the comic book, called “Mariana – Rediscovering Guanabara Bay,” was held on October 15, 2021 at Espaço Azul in Copacabana. The Municipal Environment Secretariat’s environmental education team held a discussion with children, who then led a beach cleanup.

imagem A comic book inspired by the documentary “Urban Bay”