Stellwagen Bank — an underwater plateau located at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay about 25 miles from Boston — has been known for centuries as a rich and productive ecosystem, where fishermen venture in search of cod, haddock, flounder, tuna, and herring.
In recent decades, the region has become famous for whale watching and is routinely ranked among the world's top-10 whale-watching destinations.
NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary protects this special marine area. The sanctuary's boundaries stretch from three miles southeast of Cape Ann to three miles north of the famous Province Lands of Cape Cod National Seashore — the place that inspired Henry David Thoreau to write "A man may stand there and put all America behind him."
Whale species often observed in the sanctuary include the acrobatic humpback whale, and fin, minke, sei, and pilot whales. Regular visitors also include Atlantic white-sided dolphins, harbor porpoises, harbor seals, and gray seals. Critically endangered North Atlantic right whales also traverse the sanctuary, but regulations require boats to stay at least 500 yards away from them, making sightings difficult.
If Boston, Salem, or Cape Cod and the Islands are on your summer itinerary, consider a visit to Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Throughout the summer, you can:
As a travel destination, few places on the planet can compete with the diversity of the National Marine Sanctuary System. This article is part of an ongoing series to highlight what you can see and do at some of our most iconic natural and cultural marine resources. Check out our other sanctuary stories: