Cobble Field
Cobble Field

Photograph by Dann Blackwood and Page Valentine, USGS


Map of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

Off Massachusetts—25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Boston, 3 miles (5 kilometers) southeast of Cape Ann, and 3 miles (5 kilometers) north of Provincetown

Protected Area
842 square miles (2,181 square kilometers)

Date Designated
November 1992

Sand and gravel bank
Muddy basins
Boulder fields
Rocky ledges

Key Species
Northern right whale
Humpback whale
White-sided dolphin
Northern gannet
Bluefin tuna
Atlantic cod
Winter flounder
Sea scallop
Northern lobster

Cultural Resources
1898 wreck of the steamer Portland
Middle Bank fishing area, a popular fishing ground since the earliest days of European settlement

At the end of the last ice age retreating glaciers formed a now submerged sand and gravel bank, which stretches across the entrance to Massachusetts Bay from Cape Ann to Cape Cod. Nutrient-laden currents flowing up the sunlit slopes of the bank nourish one of the region’s most productive marine environments.

The dense growths of algae that make the Stellwagen Bank sanctuary waters appear a murky green sustain vast quantities of zooplankton. The fish and crustaceans that feed on this rich New England “soup” are part of a complex food web that also includes leatherback sea turtles, dolphins, seals, 40 species of seabirds, and the rare and endangered northern right whale. Underneath the busy Boston shipping lanes that traverse the sanctuary, wolffish lurk in the boulder fields scattered across the seafloor, lobsters clamber around mud holes, and the bones of mammoths and mastodons that once roamed the bank lie waiting to be discovered.

For more information,
check out NOAA’s Stellwagen Bank profile:

Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
175 Edward Foster Road
Scituate, MA 02066

Tel: +1 781 545 8026
Fax: +1 781 545 8036
Sanctuary Web site:


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