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Stellwagen Bank

Anne Smrcina/NOAA

Stellwagen Bank
National Marine Sanctuary

Located between Cape Ann and Cape Cod in the southwest corner of the Gulf of Maine, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (NMS) once contributed to its local economy as a center of whale hunting. Now, it brings critical revenue to its local community in its current incarnation as a national marine sanctuary and one of the world’s premier destinations for whale watching.

Consistent sightings and active behaviors of these giant mammals make Stellwagen Bank NMS a special destination. In fact, the Sanctuary maintains a list of its 50 most dependable humpback returnees with their histories, behaviors and names (from Abrasion to Wyoming). In addition to whale-watching, visitors can dive, fish, birdwatch and explore shipwrecks.

While the public enjoys outdoor recreation at the sanctuary, scientists there are engaging in marine research, conservation and education, with longtime support from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. Groundbreaking acoustic mapping of the hot spots and migratory patterns of whales and other acoustic-sensitive marine life leads informed shifts to ship traffic lanes that reduced fatal ship strikes by up to 80% and reduced disruptive noise.

Stellwagen Bank NMS’s commitment to education touches students, adults and educators.  It produces a range of learning programs, workshops, presentations and contests aimed at all ages and interests.  And, with support from the Foundation, it brings “Salt,” a life-sized, walk-through inflatable whale (modeled after the sanctuary’s most famous, beloved humpback visitor) visit schools and events for hands-on learning.


Related Links :

Stellwagen Bank NMS Website

Anne-Marie Runfola

Volunteer Program Coordinator
Stellwagen Bank NMS

“A critical part of our community engagement efforts is our Teen Ambassador program. These young people promote the sanctuary, take on education and stewardship projects and recruit their peers to join them. The middle school environmental club in our hometown, Scituate, MA, is a great example. The students create and run Stellwagen: Stream to Sanctuary Day for their entire 7th grade each year. They host an annual workshop for elementary school students and train them to run activities for 6th graders. They march in parades with their Teen Ambassador banner and volunteer for community programs. The older students return each year to mentor and support the junior high, and they have requested a similar club at the high school. This model has been replicated in three other schools and counting.”

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