For Families

A child colors a whale hat
A child illustrates a whale hat at a sanctuary family event. Photo: NOAA

The sanctuary offers a variety of programs for families with preschool to middle school age students. Led by staff and our volunteer ambassadors, the sessions cover a range of topics, including whales, sea turtles, seabirds, fishes, sanctuary biodiversity, shipwrecks and maritime arts. Venues include libraries, community centers and after-school programs. You can also learn more about the sanctuary at one of our exhibits at aquariums and museums around the region.


A humpback whale breaches in the sanctuary
A humpback whale breaches in the sanctuary during a tagging mission. Photo: Ari Friedlaender (NOAA Fisheries Research Permit #14245)

This program can be offered with or without our inflatable whale, Salt. If interested in a Salt program, review the Salt page. Topics covered include whale migration and threats to whale safety, baleen and toothed whales, comparison of whale vs. human anatomy, and whale sizes.

Sea Turtles

a loggerhead turtle swimming at the water's surface
The loggerhead is one of four species of sea turtles that visit the sanctuary. Photo: Anne Smrcina/NOAA

Developed with NOAA Fisheries, this session includes identification of local species, threats from marine debris and strandings.


a razorbill swimming
Like its close relative the extinct great auk, the razorbill winters in the sanctuary. Photo: Peter Flood

The sanctuary has a well-respected seabird research program and an active volunteer program building a year-round sightings database. Topics in this program include findings from research, bird adaptations, seabird identification, and shearwater migrations.


a wolffish hiding
The wolffish is named for its "canine" teeth, although another name for this fish is "ocean catfish." Photo: Matthew Lawrence/NOAA

The sanctuary is working with NOAA Fisheries and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries to build recreational fishing programs for families. Activities include fish identification, design-a-fish, responsible fishing practices, and seafood safety. Many of the resource materials have been translated into Spanish.

Marine Biodiversity

a rock with three species on it: a finger sponge, a Bolocera anemone and a sea cucumber
This one rock holds three species from three different phyla -- a finger sponge (Plylum Porifera), a Bolocera anemone (Phylum Cnideria) and a sea cucumber (Phylum Echinodermata). Photo: Courtesy of Peter J. Auster/UConn

The Stellwagen Bank area is one of the more biologically diverse and productive areas in the Gulf of Maine. This session offers activities ranging from classification bingo, food web and food chain card games, and species "concentration."


side scan of the wrecks of the Frank A. Palmer and Louise B. Crary
The Frank A. Palmer and Louise B. Crary, two coal schooners, crashed in 1902, sank together, and now sit on the sanctuary sea floor. Photo: NOAA/UConn

Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary is home to numerous shipwrecks, including some of historical significance. Our program offers a simulated shipwreck with artifacts that can be explored and documented.

Maritime Arts

A drawing of sanctuary species
A drawing of sanctuary species was one of the winning entries in the annual marine art contest.  Art: Charlotte R., Antioch School, Fall River. Photo: NOAA

We explore a variety of craft projects that incorporate sanctuary resources or maritime traditions, including sailors' valentines, scrimshaw, drawing a sanctuary species, and creating a pattern for a humpback whale's tail.

Book a Family Program

Children explore a mock shipwreck
Children explore a mock shipwreck in a sanctuary family event. Photo: Matthew Lawrence/NOAA

Please fill out this form to request a family program. The form requires details such as possible dates and times, number and age of participants, and any supplemental educational programming needs. Submission must be made by the host institution's director or designated authority. Due to staffing limitations, we may not be able to accommodate all requests.