Music offers a new way to look at our resources and programs, and provides a method to reach new audiences through public programming, entertainment, and education.

Whales In Motion: A Musical and Sculptural Experience for the Blind and Low Vision Community

When whales forage for food, they sometimes conduct a series of deep dives. Researchers can create models that help to visualize the movements and behaviors of a tagged individual whale. Thanks to a project called Whales in Motion, it is also possible for visually impaired persons to learn about the foraging behavior of whales by feeling textured sculpture models.

In April 2024, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary staff and volunteers participated in Whales In Motion through Sound Explorations, a special interactive exhibit celebrating Massachusetts Right Whale Day at Boston’s Museum of Science. Blind and visually-impaired students and adults experienced the locomotion and foraging behavior of humpback and North Atlantic right whales through 3D sculpture models with musicians performing live. As participants ran their hands across these sculpture models, musicians performed action-specific melodies that matched the same contour and shape of the model.

Throughout the exhibit experience, participants met with sanctuary staff and volunteers to learn about local whale species in Stellwagen Bank. Students had the opportunity to create their own sculpture models using Animal Motion Path Makers as musicians performed their sculptures, as well as touching baleen to learn how whales filter feed.

Celebratory Symphony and Game

In recognition of the sanctuary's 30th anniversary a musical work by composer David MacKenzie was commissioned and an interactive musical game developed by Sound Explorations.  The composition explores the interaction of sanctuary species, particularly tiny plankton, schools of sand lance (a key forage fish), graceful great shearwaters (a common seabird), and massive humpback whales. Listen to a performance. Play the game and see how various human activities affect the status of these individual species and the interactions between them.

Eco-Cycle Game Video

Play the Stellwagen Eco-Cycle Game

Sanctuary Overture and Student Performance

The sanctuary has been working with a local composer and a Scituate, Massachusetts middle school orchestra to premier a musical overture about the sanctuary. The composition has been written, but the performance and recording have been delayed. Keep checking back to follow the progress of this unique project that combines science education and the arts.

Humpback Whale Songs

spectrogram image of whale sound


Humpback whales are famous for their complicated songs, filled with a variety of repeating sounds. Once thought to be sung by males only in the mating grounds, it is now known that these whales may be practicing and rewriting their songs in other parts of their migratory route, including feeding grounds, like Stellwagen Bank. Here are two examples of songs recorded in the sanctuary.


spectrogram image of whale sound