Frequently Asked Questions

Get the answers to some of the most common questions we receive here at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. If you have questions about something you've observed on the Chesapeake Bay or other waterways, please visit our Bay Info FAQ page.

What is the mission of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science?

The Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) has a three-part mission to conduct research in coastal ocean and estuarine science, educate students and citizens, and provide advisory service to policymakers, industry, and the public. The Institute’s mission is mandated in the Code of Virginia. The Institute focuses much, but not all, of its research on coastal and estuarine systems.

Where is VIMS located?

The Virginia Institute of Marine Science's main campus is located in Gloucester Point, Virginia, near the mouth of the York River, a major tributary and passageway to the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. The VIMS Gloucester Point campus lies about 13 miles east of William & Mary's Williamsburg campus, across the river from the terminus of the Colonial Parkway. Directions to VIMS and to its two satellite campuses (the Eastern Shore Laboratory in Wachapreague and the Kauffman Aquaculture Center on the Rappahannock River) are available here.

Where does VIMS get its funding?

VIMS receives about half of its annual operating budget from the Commonwealth of Virginia. The other half of our budget is earned through competitive grants and contracts from federal, state, and local agencies. Our largest source of federal grant dollars is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), followed by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of the Interior, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

What is the relationship between VIMS and William & Mary?

VIMS began as part of William & Mary, first as the Marine Laboratory at Yorktown (1938) and then as the Virginia Fisheries Laboratory (1944). The Laboratory was named the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and became an independent institution by an Act of Virginia’s General Assembly in 1962. VIMS returned to the administrative umbrella of the College in 1979. William & Mary’s School of Marine Science is VIMS’ graduate education component. The School, which granted its first Ph.D. degree in 1968, evolved from a Master’s Program in Aquatic Science that began at W&M in 1940. VIMS is subject to the supervision, management, and control of the William & Mary Board of Visitors.

How many people work at VIMS?
Approximately 500 faculty, staff, and students are engaged in marine science activities at the Institute.