National Marine Sanctuaries
  40 Years of Sanctuaries - Top 40 Accomplishments 

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#40 1975
Wreck(ing) Ball: Protecting the Historic Wrecks of the Sanctuary System

Three years after the passage of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, the first national marine sanctuary was designated in 1975, to protect the recently discovered wreck of the Civil War-era USS Monitor. The Monitor would eventually be named as a National Historic Landmark and would pave the way for an extensive NOAA maritime heritage program.

Among other notable shipwrecks found in sanctuaries is the SS Winfield Scott, a Gold Rush-era sidewheel steamer (Channel Islands); the Portland (Stellwagen Bank), considered as the Titanic of New England; the airship USS Macon (Monterey Bay); and the whaler Two Brothers (Papahānaumokuākea), whose captain, George Pollard's previous command, the whaler Essex, had been rammed and sunk by a whale. The ordeal of Pollard and his men inspired Herman Melville to write Moby Dick. It is stories and ships like this that are protected, explored, and shared through our maritime heritage work.


Connect with your ocean heritage by sitting down with your elders and learning about your family’s history, then visit a maritime museum or landmark near you.

heritage students

More about the USS Monitor
More about the maritime heritage work
More about the Portland
More about the Macon
More about the Two Brothers