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 natural productivity.
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.
A new section on shipwrecks has also been created on this web
site, and can be accessed at the Maritime
Heritage Resources page.