Marine Science Day, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science’s annual open house, will take place on Saturday, May 21st from 10 am to 3 pm on the VIMS bayfront campus in Gloucester Point.
Now in its ninth year, the popular event is offered free of charge and proceeds rain or shine. The goal of Marine Science Day is to give the public a behind-the-scenes look at how VIMS research in Chesapeake Bay and around the world helps empower Virginians to protect and restore our coastal environment.
The Institute honors a different animal each year during Marine Science Day, with this year’s choice being the seahorse. Visitors will be able to partake in several activities related to these winsome creatures, including a "seahorse scramble" and a "seahorse search." Visitors will also be able to the make a seahorse hat and stick puppet, and to compete in the "Seahorse Slurping Challenge," in which they'll use common kitchen utensils to test the effectiveness of different feeding methods for capturing small prey.
Something old, something new
Susan Maples, VIMS’ Public Outreach Coordinator, says this year’s event will “feature several new hands-on activities in addition to favorites from years past.”
One new activity is a "Making Waves" photo booth that will allow visitors to picture themselves on a surfboard atop a wave—an image donated by world-renowned Hawaiian photographer Clark Little—while VIMS researchers provide information about the science of waves and their importance in moving seafloor sediments. Participants will later be able to share their “hang-ten” moment with family and friends via the VIMS website.
One of the event’s perennial favorites is the Parade of Marine Life, in which children and adults from around Tidewater walk through the VIMS campus wearing handmade creature costumes including seahorses, jellyfish, sharks, dolphins, and blue crabs. This year’s parade features a new, more compact route with a surprising twist.
Science from scientists
Attendees will be able to visit display booths to learn from VIMS researchers how they help manage blue crabs, restore oysters, survey fish populations, unravel biodiversity, monitor water quality, find and remove "ghost" crab pots, and reduce the accidental capture of diamondback terrapins. Other activities will introduce VIMS’ international work in Antarctica.
The younger set will have the chance to learn with fun crafts and activities in the Children's Pavilion. Kids and parents will also have the chance to collect and observe organisms from the York River, and to tour the Institute’s Teaching Marsh and Shellfish Hatchery.
In addition to these daylong activities, Marine Science Day offers a series of events that begin at specific times. These include a 10-minute mini-lecture on marine careers, a seafood cooking demonstration, a performance by the Hysterically Correct Pirate Show, and more. Details on these and all the other activities are available in the Marine Science Day program, which is available ahead of time at www.vims.edu/msd.
VIMS, one of the leading marine centers in the U.S., provides research, education, and advisory service to help protect and restore Chesapeake Bay and coastal waters. The Institute offers Master’s and Ph.D. degrees through its School of Marine Science, part of the College of William and Mary.