National marine sanctuary offices and visitor centers closed to the public; waters remain open

NOAA's national marine sanctuary offices and visitor centers are closed to the public while the waters remain open for responsible use in accordance with CDC guidance and local regulations. More information on the response from NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries can be found on

2007 Condition Report

Tanker and Whales
Whales with Tanker - WCNE & SBNMS - SBNMS file photo (taken under NOAA Fisheries Permit # 981-1707-00)

Whales, including these humpbacks, feed in sanctuary waters despite the fact that large ships are an ever-present threat. An effort led by the sanctuary has potentially reduced the threat of ship strikes by moving the Boston shipping lanes (Traffic Separation Scheme) several miles northward to an area with an historically lower whale sightings record.

Shipwreck windlass
Shipwreck windlass with nets - Matthew Lawrence, SBNMS - SBNMS file photo

Bottom fishing occurs in much of the sanctuary, resulting in the entanglement of maritime heritage resources. The net entangling the windlass from the coal schooner Paul Palmer was removed during a sanctuary resource protection/diver safety mission last fall. Other net-draped wrecks in deeper parts of the sanctuary present entanglement threats to remotely operated vehicles, preventing close inspection and complete documentation.

Invertebrates and cunner
Invertebrates and cunner - Tane Casserley, NOAA - SBNMS file photo

Sanctuary habitats support a wide diversity of marine life, including colorful collections of invertebrates. Some of these invertebrates attach to hard substrate, like this shipwreck, or to rocks on the seafloor. Different species in mud or sand habitats may burrow into the sediments. This three-dimensional structure provides areas where juvenile fish can find shelter and adds to the productivity of the area.

Sponges and other invertebrates
Sponges and other invertebrates - Deborah Marx, SBNMS - SBNMS file photo

Conserving biodiversity is one of the cornerstones of the sanctuary program. Here, a variety of sponges and other invertebrates provide colorful cover for other species in the sanctuary.

Diver cutting net from wreck
Diver cutting net from wreck - Matthew Lawrence, SBNMS - SBNMS file photo

Nets present a threat to shipwrecks and other historical resources on the seafloor. Fishing operations can pull wrecks apart, while entangled nets, not only offer threats to marine life, divers, and underwater equipment, but can wear away at the wrecks themselves. The sanctuary is initiating a variety of programs to remove derelict gear from within its boundaries and threatening its resources.

Palmer-Crary side scan image
Palmer-Crary side scan image - NURC-UConn and SBNMS - SBNMS file photo

The site of the shipwrecks Frank A. Palmer and Louise B. Crary has been named to the National Register of Historic Places. These shipwrecks provide maritime archaeologists with the opportunity to learn more about our sea-going past. Protecting these maritime heritage resources is an important goal of the sanctuary.

Humpback Whale Feeding
Humpback Whale Feeding - Anne Smrcina, SBNMS - SBNMS file photo

A humpback whale feeds on schools of small fish. The sanctuary is one of the world's premiere sites for nature viewing, with an estimated visitation of approximately one million whale watchers a year. The World Wildlife Fund listed the area as one of its Top Ten sites for viewing whales and the readers of Offshore Magazine voted it the #1 location for wildlife watching in the northeast.



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