of the Sanctuary -- 2000
was a year of transition and growth for the Gerry E. Studds
Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary as a new superintendent
was brought on board and new staff hired. The new superintendent,
Dr. Craig MacDonald, made the jump from state government in
Hawaii where he headed the Ocean Resources Section of the Office
of Economic Development and Tourism. Craig brings with him extensive
experience in the conduct of marine science and policy. Ben
Haskell, formerly the Research Coordinator at FKNMS, joined
the Sanctuary as the Operations and Program Coordinator. Ben
will spearhead a number of the Sanctuarys policy efforts.
Dr. James Lindholm joined the staff as the Science/Research
Coordinator. In addition to science coordination, James, a marine
ecologist, will conduct research on the impacts of anthropogenic
activities on seafloor habitat in the Sanctuary and will study
the movement of fish relative to seafloor habitat.
passed allowing the transfer of the Coast Guard Station main
building, garage and boat house to NOAA for the headquarters
of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. The facility
gives the Sanctuary space for new and future staff, as well
as meeting rooms and storage areas. The Massachusetts Environmental
Police will continue to maintain a field office in the main
building, as will the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement.
with New England Aquarium
New England Aquarium and the Sanctuary have entered into a partnership
in which the Aquarium will serve as the Boston area visitor
center for the Sanctuary. The first phase of the project is
to create exhibit panels for outdoor display at the Aquariums
main facility and on its whalewatch boats that focus on sanctuary
resources and conservation issues. The Aquarium already offers
a 15-minute interactive, multi-screen video production called
"Storm Over Stellwagen" in its Immersive Theater.
The National Marine Sanctuary Office through the Stellwagen
Bank Sanctuary contracted with the Aquarium to add a 2.5-minute
trailer to that production to more fully describe the entire
system of sanctuaries.
Permit for Mass. Bay Outfall
final NPDES (National Pollution Discharge Elimination System)
permit issued to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority
(MWRA) for its 9-mile outfall pipe into Massachusetts Bay calls
for an annual report to the Sanctuary about water quality changes
that are impacting, have impacted, or may impact Sanctuary resources.
The requirement of the summary report was part of a final change
to the permit at the request of the
Sanctuary. The MWRA project also known as the Boston
Harbor Cleanup is the largest secondary treatment facility
in the nation. The wastewater flow into Massachusetts Bay started
this past fall.
in 2000 went to two research institutions to better understand
the resident population of humpback whales on Stellwagen Bank.
The Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, Mass. is undertaking
monthly cruises year-round to photograph and identify whales.
Samples for genetic studies have been taken as conditions allow.
The Whale Center of New England in Gloucester, Mass. has been
undertaking a study of whale feeding behaviors and sand lance
populations. In addition, the Sanctuary is supporting analysis
of photographs for new whale identifications and the annual
whale naming workshop.
Sanctuary and National Marine Fisheries Service-Office of Protected
Resources have jointly issued revised guidelines for whalewatching
in the northeast region. The guidelines provide approach/departure
speeds and minimal distance recommendations for commercial and
recreational boats intent on watching whales, particularly humpbacks.
Regulations for approach distances for northern right whales
are also incorporated into all materials. NMFS issued an ANPR
(Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) for whalewatching in
the northeast in consultation with the Sanctuary.
Mapping Project Providing State-of-the-Art Maps
US Geological Survey is in the final stages of a mapping project
that produce a series of maps (18 quadrangles at a scale of
1:25,000) covering three types of data topography, backscatter,
and sediment characterization. The data set is already providing
valuable assistance in studies of biodiversity, fish ecology,
and cultural resources surveys. The USGS has incorporated much
of this data into a GIS CD-ROM on Massachusetts Bay.
of Maine Closure Area Supported
Sanctuary and other organizations have voiced support for the
continuation of the Western Gulf of Maine Groundfish Closure
Area (which incorporates about 22% of the Sanctuary). The closure,
an action of the New England Fisheries Management Council, to
protect stocks of Gulf of Maine groundfish from overfishing,
has provided an excellent opportunity for field research in
recovery rates of various seafloor habitats from fishing gear
impacts. The Sanctuary has been working cooperatively with the
National Undersea Research Center, North Atlantic and Great
Lakes at the University of Connecticut (NURC-UCONN) on this
research and to extend the Sanctuary section of the closure
on the Ecology of Fishes and Seafloor Habitat
on-going projects were continued during the 2000 field season.
Scientists from the Sanctuary and NURC-UCONN 1) used the Sanctuarys
Integrated Seafloor Imaging System (ISIS) to study the recovery
of seafloor habitat and associated taxa following the cessation
of fishing, 2) deployed a hydrophone array on the seafloor and
tracked the movement of fish tagged with acoustic pingers, and
3) used a remotely operated vehicle(ROV) operated by NURC-UCONN
to study species-area relationships of fish and invertebrate
taxa in boulder and gravel habitats. In each case, the results
of these on-going research projects will directly inform management
of Sanctuary resources.
Sanctuary began its first systematic investigation of cultural
resources in its boundaries in 2000. Sanctuary scientists collaborated
with scientists from the US Geological Survey in Woods Hole,
Massachusetts to visit three shipwreck sites in the southern
Sanctuary. The ISIS camera system was used to collect video
and still photographs of each wreck. Those data are being analyzed
in hopes of ultimately identifying the wrecks.
and Projects for 2001
Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary is pursuing a diverse
suite of projects in 2001, with the goal of better understanding
and protecting resources located within the sanctuary and of
disseminating this vital information to the public. High among
the issues of interest to sanctuary staff is the effect of high
speed vessel traffic on local populations of marine mammals
and other boat traffic. The sanctuary will be working with NMFS
to address this issue, possibly through regional or sanctuary-specific
regulations pertaining to boat speed. Other former guidelines
pertaining to whalewatching, such as distance and time on whales,
may be addressed through the more formal regulatory process.
the only permanent, year-round open water Marine Protected Area
in the Gulf of Maine, the sanctuary sees a role for itself as
a leader in MPA messaging and networking. The sanctuary has
initiated an MPA listserve to facilitate discussion about Gulf
of Maine MPAs among interested parties in the region. With the
support of the sanctuary and other organizations, including
the MWRA and USGS, a GOMOOS buoy is to be placed at the north
end of the sanctuary during the summer of 2001. Timely data
from this buoy will assist scientists in their understanding
of physical oceanographic processes in the region. Other scientific
research projects will continue to focus on species-area relationships
of fish and invertebrate taxa, as well as the movements of tagged
developing partnership with the Massachusetts Environmental
Police will provide added patrols in the sanctuary, especially
during high use days during the summer. The MEP officers are
cross-deputized with NOAA to provide enforcement of sanctuary
and other federal regulations. The patrols will also provide
a platform for the dissemination of educational materials, including
new products pertaining to safe boating around whales, developed
by the sanctuary and the International Wildlife Coalition. In
2001, SBNMS and IWC will bring this boater education program
to boater safety classes, boat and yacht clubs, boat shows,
and a host of other recreational boating forums. The second
phase of the project includes the production and posting of
signs at boat ramps around Massachusetts and Cape Cod Bays.
an offshore site, the Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary presents limited
direct access by the general public. But three major routes
will provide for greater amounts of visitation directly
by whalewatch trips, and indirectly through visitor centers
and World Wide Web experiences. The sanctuary is working to
expand its level of outreach to whalewatch companies and their
passengers with new brochures, charts and posters. Work is underway
to increase the sanctuarys presence at whalewatch ports
through signage and exhibits, particularly in Provincetown on
Cape Cod. A new web page will be showcased in 2001, that will
provide a wealth of data and imagery.
sanctuarys management plan review process will culminate
later this year with the production of a draft plan, subsequent
to a series of public scoping sessions and workshops. An important
event in that process will be the selection and installation
of a Sanctuary Advisory Council to help in the public discussion
of issues and management strategies.