The Institute was established by a resolution of the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences in 1946 on the basis of the Oceanology Laboratory set up in 1941. Peter Shirshov became the Institute’s first Director. Together with P. Shirshov, the well-known scientists like Lev Zenkevich, Veniamin Bogorov, Semen Bruyevich, Alexei Dobrovolsky, Pamteleimon Bezrukov, Ivan Papanin, Vladimir Shtockman and others took an active part in the formation of the new scientific center.
Today, Shirshov Institute of Oceanology is an ensemble of 1,300 employees including 110 doctors of sciences and 276 candidates of sciences in several disciplines. There are 3 Full Members (Аcademicians) and 3 Corresponding Members of the Russian Academy of Sciences among the Institute’s staff.
IO RAS affiliates the Atlantic Department in Kaliningrad, the Southern Department in Gelendjik, a branch office in St.-Petersburg, the North-Western Department in Arkhangelsk and the Caspian branch office in Astrakhan.