VIMS 75th Anniversary

Help us celebrate our 75th anniversary by exploring milestones in the history of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Chesapeake Bay, and the coastal ocean.

Eastern Shore Laboratory

The Eastern Shore Laboratory opens at Wachapreague. Shellfish aquaculture soon becomes a major focus.

VIMS is established

VIMS' predecessor, the Virginia Fisheries Laboratory, officially opens its doors on July 6, 1940 in Yorktown. Funding is provided by the College of William & Mary, the Virginia Commission of Fisheries, and the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries.

Shark Survey Begins

The VIMS Shark Survey, established in 1973 by Professor Jack Musick, stands as the longest-running fishery-independent study of shark populations in the world. It has brought global attention to significant declines in shark populations due to overfishing, and led to the first U.S. management plan for sharks, in 1993.

Fish & Crab Surveys

VIMS initiates juvenile fish and blue crab surveys in Chesapeake Bay. These key fishery management tools continue today, providing the data needed to sustainably manage the fish and shellfish people like to catch and eat.

Science for the Bay

Scientists with the Virginia Fisheries Laboratory launch fundamental research on Bay oysters, clams, finfish, and blue crabs, plus studies of the Bay’s physical and chemical features.


The General Assembly renames the Virginia Fisheries Laboratory as the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, reconstitutes it as an independent agency; and provides for continued educational offerings in Marine Science by permitting affiliation with William & Mary and other accredited institutions of higher learning.

Franklin Hall

This 13,188 sf building houses VIMS' Physical Sciences Department, as well as staff in the Field Support Center.

Clam Aquaculture

VIMS shellfish pioneer Mike Castagna publishes “Manual for growing the hard clam Mercenaria,” which summarizes his decades of effort to develop the aquaculture methods that now underlie the East Coast’s multi-million dollar hard clam industry.

Oyster Hatchery

This 6,549 sf facility is the heart of the oyster-breeding effort on VIMS' Gloucester Point campus. The hatchery has served as VIMS' principal oyster-breeding facility since the inception of the Aquaculture Genetics and Breeding Technology Center (ABC) in 1997.

Hurricane Isabel

High winds, heavy surf impact campus and research on September 18, 2003 as Hurricane Isabel slams passes across North Carolina and Virginia.

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