The Stellwagen Bank
National Marine Sanctuary was designated for a multitude of reasons,
not the least of which was its long history of human use and its high
distinct peak productivity periods produce a complex system of midwater
and benthic habitats. These communities support benthic and pelagic
species by providing cover and anchoring locations for invertebrates;
they also provide feeding and nursery grounds for more than a dozen
cetacean species including the endangered humpback, northern right,
sei, and fin whales. The area supports foraging activity by diverse
seabird species, dominated by loons, fulmars, shearwaters, storm petrels,
cormorants, phalaropes, alcids, gulls, jaegers, and terns. Fish and
invertebrate populations subject to seasonal and migration shifts include
both demersal and pelagic species, such as bluefin tuna, herring, cod,
flounders, lobster, and scallops. Leatherback and Kemp's ridley sea
turtles (endangered species) use the area for feeding.
strongly suggest the presence of over 50 shipwreck sites within the
Sanctuary. Important sites that have already been investigated include
the historically significant wreck of the steamship Portland
which sank in 1898 during a gale named after the ship. Large vessel
traffic is steady due to the fact that the major shipping lanes to Boston
pass through the Sanctuary, The presence of whales and fish, in turn,
attract vessels engaged in watching the former and catching the latter.
more in-depth looks at the resources and uses of the Sanctuary, please
refer to the Sanctuary Management
Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement and to the Site
Characterization Report. A new section on shipwrecks has also been
created on this web site, and can be accessed at the Maritime
Heritage Resources page.
can get additional information about whales, birds and turtles in our
Wildlife Watching section.