Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Marine Science Day

  • Visitors' Center
    Visitors' Center
    Visitors enjoy the exhibits, aquaria, and life-size models in VIMS Visitors' Center during Marine Science Day.
  • Scallop Eyes
    Scallop Eyes
    From L: Madeline Allburn, Isabella Weiner, and Clare Allburn learn what it's like to see the world through the eyes of a scallop during Marine Science Day at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.
  • Underwater Robot
    Underwater Robot
    Chris Petrone (far L) watches as visitors drive a mini-robotic submarine during Marine Science Day. Petrone is a Marine Education Specialist with the Sea Grant program at VIMS.
  • Touch Tank
    Touch Tank
    Visitors examine a spider crab taken from the Visitors' Center touch tank.
  • Fish Tagging
    Fish Tagging
    Jon Lucy (L) explains fish tagging to two young visitors. Lucy is a Marine Recreation Specialist with the VA Sea Grant program at VIMS.
  • Bottom Dwellers
    Bottom Dwellers
    VIMS graduate student Treda Smith talks about weird and wonderful bottom dwellers during Marine Science Day
  • Fish Printing
    Fish Printing
    Young visitors practice their fish and scallop printing in the Children's Pavilion.
  • Fish Prints
    Fish Prints
    A selection of the fish and scallop prints created by visitors to Marine Science Day.
  • Seafood Cooking Demo
    Seafood Cooking Demo
    Kelly Turner, Chef Instructor at the Culinary Institute of Virginia (L), joins with Sea Grant Seafood Education Specialist Vicki Clark (2nd from L) to serve scallops during a Seafood Cooking Demonstration.
  • whalen.jpg
    VIMS grad student Matt Whalen (L) shows a visitor how to use a microscope to view the small shrimp-like crustaceans that inhabit local sea grass beds.
  • Hidden Pipefish
    Hidden Pipefish
    Visitors learn about camouflage by counting pipefish hidden within sea grass.
  • DNA
    Wendi Ribeiro, a graduate student in the Marine and Aquaculture Molecular Genetics program at VIMS (L), shows young visitors how to prepare samples for DNA analysis.
  • Blue Crab
    Blue Crab
    A young visitor examines a blue crab.
  • Blue Crabs
    Blue Crabs
    Visitors learn about blue crabs.
  • Aquarium Display
    Aquarium Display
    A visitor examines an aquarium display.
  • Zooplankton
    Kate Ruck shows a zooplankton sample to a visitor. Ruck is an incoming graduate student.
  • TEM
    VIMS professor Wolfgang Vogelbein (C) instructs Porter Doughty (L) and Michael Luck (R) in the use of the transmission electron microscope (TEM).
  • Green Screen
    Green Screen
    A pair of young visitors prepare for the Virtual Scientist "green screen" activity. Results of this “Scientist for a Few Seconds” activity will soon be available on the VIMS YouTube channel (
  • Cake
    Gummi worms and fish occupy the "seafloor" as part of a hands-on activity in which visitors take "sediment cores" from a chocolate layer cake.
  • Sediment Cores
    Sediment Cores
    Visitors take "sediment cores" from a chocolate layer cake.
  • cored_seafloor.jpg
    The "seafloor" following sediment coring. Unlike real sediment cores, these cores were good to eat.
  • Acrobat
    Graduate student Daniel Maxey (R) explains how VIMS scientists use the Acrobat sensor to measure dissolved oxygen in Chesapeake Bay.
  • Fish Collection
    Fish Collection
    Graduate student Dan Dutton (C) describes a specimen from the VIMS Fish Collection.
  • Seine Net
    Seine Net
    Visitors check their seine net for marine life.
  • Algae
    A young visitor gets a hands-on feel for green algae.
  • Shark
    Logan Miesowitz of Hayes becomes a shark.
  • Mapping
    VIMS scientist Tami Rudnicky explains the intricacies of mapping to 3rd-grader Jasmine Tomson of Gloucester.
  • Seine Net
    Seine Net
    Visitors draw their seine net from the York River.
  • Parade Prep
    Parade Prep
    Students from Yorktown Elementary prepare to march in the Parade of Marine Life.
  • SCUBA Divers
    SCUBA Divers
    Ben Malmquist (L) and Caleb Richardson (R) dressed as SCUBA divers for the Parade of Marine Life.
  • yorktown_elem.jpg
    Students from Yorktown Elementary march in the Parade of Marine Life.
  • Scallop and Anglerfish
    Scallop and Anglerfish
    Hannah Mclean (L) and Sarah McGuire of the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve program at VIMS show off their scallop and angler fish costumes following the Parade of Marine Life.
  • Deep-sea Fish
    Deep-sea Fish
    VIMS graduate student CJ Sweetman shows a deep-sea fish to a visitor.
  • Best of Show
    Best of Show
    Monet Wilson, a 6th grader at Peasley Middle School in Gloucester, won Best of Parade for her seahorse costume in the Parade of Marine Life during Marine Science Day at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science on May 30.
  • Oyster Hatchery
    Oyster Hatchery
    Researcher Karen Hudson (R) explains the workings of the VIMS Oyster Hatchery. Hudson is with the Aquaculture Genetics and Breeding Technology Center at VIMS.
  • Scallops
    Hannah McLean (R) talks about scallops. McClean is with the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve program at VIMS.
  • Waiting for Waders
    Waiting for Waders
    Scott Lerberg (foreground) helps visitors don their waders before seining. Lerberg is Stewardship Coordinator with the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve program at VIMS.
  • Dip Net
    Dip Net
    A young visitor uses a dip net to search for marine life in the York River.
  • Seining
    Visitors seine for marine life in the York River.
  • Tire Pressure
    Tire Pressure
    Sandi Buchheister of Hayes (L) looks on as VIMS professor Rebecca Dickhut (R) checks her recommended tire pressure.

VIMS' annual open house is a fun-filled event for the whole family. Join us in Gloucester Point for exhibits, children's activities, seining on the York River, lab tours, a seafood cooking demonstration, mini-lectures, and much more. All activities are free, as is parking. The event proceeds rain or shine.

Marine Science Day 2016 will take place on Saturday, May 21st. This year’s theme is Sounds of the Sea. Register online.

MSD 2016 Storify MSD 2016 Tagboard

Costume Contest

Create a marine-themed costume to participate in our Marine Science Day contest. Everyone, every age, can participate by creating original costumes of marine plants or animals. Individuals and groups are welcome. Ribbons are awarded for most original plant or animal; most creative use of materials; best group costume; and best representation of a plant or animal. The overall winner will earn a $50 gift certificate to VIMS' Gift Shop. Register here.

View wonderful creatures created and worn by individuals and groups from all around Tidewater during past years.

For Teachers

Encourage your students to attend Marine Science Day by offering extra credit to those who attend and have VIMS staff stamp a "passport" at selected locations. Students can have their passport stamped during event hours (10 am-3 pm), but should arrive before 2 pm to allow time to locate participating booths. The passports require 6 of the possible 8 stamps, with one “free stamp” included in the 6. We ask that teachers only require 6, as sometimes long lines form at certain booths, making for a stressful experience. Download your printable passport here.

Food and Gifts

Marine Science Day T-shirts and other clothing and memorabilia will be for sale in the VIMS Gift Shop. T-shirts will also be available in the Welcome Booth. Hot sandwiches, snacks, and drinks will be available near the Children's Pavilion.

MSD Offerings
Wacky Science Photo Booth

We are processing the images from the 2016 Wacky Science Photo Booth and will notify participants here and on social media when they are ready to view on the VIMS Flickr page.

VIMS in the Bay and Around the World

Ocean research takes VIMS scientists from Poquoson to the Poles. Learn about efforts by VIMS researchers in Chesapeake Bay to manage blue crabs, restore oysters, survey fish populations, unravel biodiversity, monitor water quality, and find and remove "ghost" crab pots. Also learn about our international work in Antarctica and the deep sea. These exhibits are located in Watermen's Hall and Chesapeake Bay Hall and are open continuously from 10 am - 3 pm.

Open Labs

Tour working laboratories to learn about the latest tools and techniques of marine research. Scientists lead the tours and will explain their current research.

Activities & Tours

Learn and have fun with crafts and other activities in our Children's Pavilion. Tour our Teaching Marsh, Shellfish Hatchery, and Riparian Forest. Collect, observe, and better understand estuarine organisms from the York River. Make sure to stop by our Wacky Science Photo Booth!

By the Clock

In addition to our day-long activities, we offer a series of events that begin at specific times. These events include 10-minute Fast Talks, a seafood cooking demonstration, and more. The Program of Events will be available online closer to the event date.

Thanks to our 2016 Sponsors!
Christopher Wren Association Dominion The Owens Foundation
C.A. Barrs Contracting Bobby's Auto Service Center Canon Environmental Technologies, Inc.
Phillips Energy
John and Julie Dayton
Hogg Funeral Home
                               Rappahannock Concrete
York River Oyster Company