Stellwagen Bank

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Designated: November 4, 1992

Area: 638 mi²

Located between Cape Ann and Cape Cod in the southwest corner of the Gulf of Maine, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary 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 National Marine Sanctuary 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.

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