NOAA's national marine sanctuary offices and visitor centers are currently closed to the public, and in accordance with Executive Order 13991 - Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask Wearing, all individuals in NOAA-managed areas are required to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on mask-wearing and maintaining social distances. Sanctuary waters remain open for responsible use in accordance with CDC guidance, U.S. Coast Guard requirements, and local regulations. More information on the response from NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries can be found on


The Bank, the Bay, the Gulf
and the Sanctuary

usgs map

This image was developed by the U.S. Geological
Survey using computer visualization software
to turn bathymetric maps into a three-dimensional image. Click on picture for bigger version.

Between Cape Ann and Cape Cod, in the southwest corner of the Gulf of Maine, is Massachusetts Bay. The bay's most prominent submerged feature is the kidney-shaped plateau called Stellwagen Bank, which lies at the bay's eastern edge. Stellwagen Bank is a shallow, primarily sandy feature, curving in a southeast to northwest direction for 19 miles. It is roughly 6 miles across at its widest point at the southern end. Water depths over and around the bank range from 65 feet on the southwest corner to depths of about 600 feet in deep passages to the northeast. Massachusetts Basin on the western side of the sanctuary levels off at about 300 feet in depth, while the top of the bank averages about 100 to 120 feet.

Stellwagen Bank is the centerpiece of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, which encompasses a total of 638 square nautical miles, or 842 square miles. The sanctuary also includes all of Tillies Bank (situated to the northeast of Stellwagen Bank) and southern portions of Jeffreys Ledge (situated to the north). The western boundary line of the sanctuary is approximately 25 miles east of Boston; the southern boundary is three miles from Provincetown while the northwestern boundary is three miles from Gloucester. From the sanctuary's Scituate-based headquarters, the distance is approximately 11 miles.

The sanctuary boundary occurs entirely within federal waters (beyond the three-mile limit of commonwealth of Massachusetts jurisdiction). The southern border follows a line tangential to the seaward limit of commonwealth jurisdiction adjacent to the commonwealth-designated Cape Cod Bay Ocean Sanctuary; and is also tangential to waters designated by the commonwealth as the Cape Cod Ocean Sanctuary. The northwest border of the sanctuary coincides with the commonwealth-designated North Shore Ocean Sanctuary.

The Sanctuary boundary is marked by the following coordinates, which indicate the northeast, southeast, southwest, west-northwest, and north-northwest points: 42_45'59.83"N x 70_13'01.77"W (NE); 42_05'35.51"N x 70_02'08.14"W (SE); 42_07'44.89"N x 70_28'15.44"W (SW); 42_32'53.52"N x 70_35'52.38"W (WNW); and 42_39'04.08"N x 70_30'11.29"(W) (NNW).



Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary Web Group
Website Owner: Department of Commerce
Many links leave the National Marine Sanctuary Web Site (often indicated with External Website Image) - please view our Disclaimer for more information
National Marine Sanctuaries |National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | National Ocean Service | Privacy Policy | User Survey
Contact Us |
Photo Credits for Section Pages