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Atlantic Estuarine Research Society

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Thursday Field Trips


Join us to tour two of VIMS' most visited facilities!  

Space is limited, a sign up sheet will be circulated to meeting registrants closer to the tour date

Acuff Center for Aquaculture

Photos courtesy of Quinn Evans

Completed in 2022, the Acuff Center for Aquaculture is a 22,000-square-foot shellfish hatchery that supports collaborative research, education, and advisory teams within VIMS’ Shellfish Aquaculture Program. The building has an expansive, open floorplan allowing flexibility to meet the changing research and husbandry needs of many users, with capacity for shellfish spawning, larval culture and setting, as well as a specialized algae and broodstock rooms, 4 labs, 4 offices, and a workshop. There is ample space to accommodate hundreds of distinct shellfish cultures in their early life stages, from spawning through settlement. State-of-the-art seawater filtration and climate-control systems maintain optimal conditions for ripening broodstock, culturing shellfish larvae, and growing microalgae for feeding animals throughout the facility.

The Acuff Center serves as a resource for not only researchers and educators, including the Aquaculture Genetics and Breeding Technology Center (ABC),  but for stakeholders and partnering organizations in the aquaculture industry as well. The collaborative efforts of these groups to advance and support a thriving, sustainable shellfish aquaculture community will help answer questions and solve problems in shellfish aquaculture through globally relevant science, outreach, and education.

Haley Uliaz, Acuff Center Algologist, will lead attendees on an educational visit through all areas of the Acuff Center for Aquaculture to foster a broader understanding of how oyster larvae are spawned and reared and what this work means for oyster consumers

Nunnally Fish Collection

Photos courtesy of Virginia Wildlife Magazine

The VIMS Nunnally Ichthyology Collection serves a broad community of basic and applied research scientists and fisheries managers, and it provides an important resource for local community outreach. Through its history, the VIMS collection has grown from an uncatalogued teaching collection to become one of the largest repositories for freshwater, Chesapeake Bay, and coastal fishes in Virginia. The VIMS collection currently maintains over 35,000 catalogued lots of fishes (c. 350,000 total specimens) and includes specimens from 316 families and more than 1,000 genera.

The VIMS collection also houses a number of specimens of significant general scientific interest, including two specimens of the Coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae), a whole-body specimen of a juvenile Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias), and unique distributional records (e.g., an Ocean Sunfish, Mola mola, from the Chesapeake Bay).

Join Dr. Sarah Huber, Curatorial Associate, for a tour of this extensive collection and see specimens, big and small in this exciting behind the scenes tour. 

Want to explore the area on your own?  Here are some highlights from the area on your way to/from the AERS conference.  You can print this document here

Field trips

17N (up the Middle Peninsula)

  •  Start your trip home with a stop at one of Virginia’s newest State Parks:  Machicomoco, opened to the public in 2021. Located just 15 minutes up Route 17 from VIMS. The picturesque park hosts an open-air interpretive pavilion providing information on the culture, landscape, and movement of Virginia Native Tribes through displays and a walking path.
  •  Enjoy a taste of our Virginia waters at the Merrior Tasting Room in Topping, a restaurant run by the folks at the Rappahannock Oyster Company (784 Locklies Creek Road, Topping VA 23169, 804-758-2871). They offer seasonal views of the Rappahannock and satisfying small-plates.


64W (Before Richmond)

  •  What’s good in Williamsburg?
  • Head over to Pierce’s Pit BBQ for lunch, (447 East Rochambeau Drive, Williamsburg, VA 23188; 757-565-2955). Did you know some scholars claim the roots of American BBQ grew out from right here in Virginia? Voted Best BBQ in VA by Southern Living magazine, March 2024.
  •  From there you are only 15 minutes away from the beautiful York River State Park, Although the parks famed fossil beach is currently closed, there are plenty of trails for you to explore and water craft & bike rentals to help you do it.

64E (through Norfolk & VB)

  •  264 W to Brunch & Bike the Elizabeth River Trail (ERT) in Norfolk
  •  Rent bikes to ride the ERT along Norfolk’s working & scenic waterfront
  • Grab lunch first & check out the local merchants at the Selden Market in downtown Norfolk, OR take a break from biking about half-way down the trail, to grab food at one of the local restaurants in the Chelsea neighborhood or refresh with a beer from one of the local breweries.
264 E to Virginia Beach where the Chesapeake Bay & the Atlantic meet
  •    Spend the afternoon at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, although it has been a staple of marine science in the region for decades, the aquarium just finished an extensive renovation.
  •  Before or after your visit, check out the painted sea life on the streets on the VIBE creative district, just off the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. In addition to bright bold street art, the neighborhood is also filled with great restaurants, bakeries, and coffee shops.


 Route 13 exploring the Eastern Shore

  •  The first significant town you reach as you travel up Virginia’s Eastern Shore, is Cape Charles. This quaint bayside community has stroll-worthy streets and beaches, although fair warning not every shop will be open this early in Spring.
  •   A little off the beaten path you will find Savage Neck Dunes, a natural maritime forest preserve nestled against the Chesapeake Bay. If you have never seen sand dunes surrounded by loblolly pines( or maybe it is the other way around), this short walking trail is worth the trip, however, be aware that parking is limited and there are no restroom facilities.

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