a painting of micro organisms
A winning painting from the 2019 marine art contest depicts diatoms. Art: Angela Z., Lexington High School, grade 10.

View galleries of amazing art from professional artists and talented students depicting a wide diversity of sanctuary species, sea surface and underwater views.

Underwater Landscapes

a painting of an rove exploring a reef

Exploring the Deep Boulder Reefs by M.J. Brush

M.J. Brush provided a wide-ranging boulder reef landscape that includes a variety of species, including wolffish, ocean pout, cod, haddock, skate, and redfish among the fishes; tunicates, sponges, anemones, and ctenophores, along with other invertebrates; and a remotely operated vehicle.

After many years of studying the ocean’s seafloor, marine biologist Dr. Peter Auster of the University of Connecticut realized that an underwater landscape was a near impossibility with our present technology. He turned to art as a way of depicting this alien world. Through a grant from the Pew Foundation, he contracted with professional artists to render scenes of two important sanctuary habitats. Using hundreds of still images and hours of video footage, M.J. Brush and Joline Putnam developed these artworks, which have become sanctuary posters.

a painting of anomones with fish and other sea creatures

In the Anemone Forest by Joline Putnam

Joline Putnam created a more intimate muddy basin environment, featuring a cod, redfish, and several other fish, spiny and smooth sunstars, and a forest of cerianthid anemones

From Military Ships to Sanctuary Whales: Tom Freeman’s “A Sanctuary Protects Them”

a man in a suit poses between two painings
The late Tom Freeman posed in front of two paintings he created in 2014, one for the sanctuary, and one to commemorate the visit of the last wooden whaleship to Stellwagen Bank. These were among the last paintings he completed before his passing in 2015. Photo: Anne Smrcina/NOAA

In 2014, renowned maritime artist Tom Freeman took on the mantle of Artist-in-Residence at the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. Although famous for his paintings of sailing ships and military vessels, he accepted the task of depicting sanctuary resources and people. Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary’s painting of humpback whales and whale researchers, entitled “A Sanctuary Protects Them,” was one of the five pieces he completed for the sanctuary system before his unfortunate passing in 2015. Along with the sanctuary whale art was a painting of Charles W. Morgan, the last surviving wooden whaleship, in the sanctuary just off Provincetown. That art commemorated the ship’s 38th voyage, in which it acted as an ambassador for whale protection.

a painting of an old wooden ship
“Whaleship Charles W. Morgan in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary” shows the last wooden whale ship afloat with the sanctuary’s Research Vessel Auk and Provincetown in the distance. The whaleship’s 38th voyage in 2014 was made to raise awareness of whale conservation issues. Art: Tom Freeman Photo: Anne Smrcina/NOAA
a painting of whales
“A Sanctuary Protects Them” is dedicated to Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and its work to protect humpback whales and other marine life. Tom Freeman, a talented painter of historic and modern ships, used submarines as a guide for creating the central subjects Art: Tom Freeman Photo: Anne Smrcina/NOAA

K-12 Marine Art Contest Winners

a painting of copepods
Winning art from past years illustrates the contest’s theme of exploring sanctuary biodiversity including zooplankton copepods. Art: Elizabeth C., Covenant Christian Academy, W. Peabody, 8th grade.

Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and the Massachusetts Marine Educators (a non-profit association of formal and informal marine educators) have jointly sponsored an annual Marine Art Contest for several decades with the theme of "Exploring the Biodiversity of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary." Additional sponsors now include the New England Aquarium, Center for Coastal Studies, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, the Ocean Genome Project/Northeastern University, and Woods Hole Sea Grant. A brochure for each year's contest is released in the fall and available on this website. The scheduled deadline usually falls in early May. View past winners and honorable mentions in our student art gallery.