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Stellwagen Bank: The Living Sanctuary

A sheet of water streams off the rounded tail of a humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae). click image for more... (photo: Dann Blackwood- USGS)

The right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) was so named by whalers because it was the right whale to hunt -- large, slow, with thick layers click image for more... (photo: Center for Coastal Studies)

The Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus) is known to ride the bow waves of boats. click image for more... (photo: Center for Coastal Studies)

Many species of birds visit the sanctuary throughout the year, including summer visitors like these greater shearwaters (Puffinus gravis). click image for more(photo: Dann Blackwood, USGS)

The ocean sunfish (Mola mola) drifts into the sanctuary during summer months, looking like a floating pancake. This large fish feeds primarily on jellyfish and other gelatinous zooplankton. (photo: Greg Skomal)

A common shark in the Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary is the blue shark (Prionace glauca). Sharks are classified as cartilaginous fish, click image for more... (photo: Greg Skomal)

Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) cruise through the sanctuary during their annual migrations up the eastern seaboard. Young fish travel click image for more... (photo: Greg Skomal)

A commercially important groundfish species, the haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) is click image for more... (photo: Peter Auster and Paul Donaldson, National Undersea Research Center, UConn.)

The fearsome appearance of the wolf fish (Anarhichas lupus) belies the fact that it is usually found hiding click image for more... (photo: Peter Auster and Paul Donaldson, National Undersea Research Center, UConn.)

Redfish (Sebastes fasciatus), also known as ocean perch, are found both in deep boulder reefs click image for more... (photo: Peter Auster and Paul Donaldson, National Undersea Research Center, UConn.)

This flounder is one of several flatfish found on the bank and in the basin. Development of juveniles click image for more... (photo: Dann Blackwood and Page Valentine, USGS)

The pointy nose of the sand lance (Ammodytes americanus) allows this small fish to dive headfirst into the sand to hide. Humpbacks have developed various feeding techniques to capture this fish, including corralling schools click image for more... (photo: Dann Blackwood and Page Valentine, USGS)

The long-finned squid (Loligo pealei) swims in large schools during the day but may dig itself a depression in the sand at night to rest. click image for more... (photo: Norman Despres)

The octopus (Octopus vulgaris) is a shell-less mollusks. It is much more passive than the squid. click image for more... (photo: Peter Auster and Paul Donaldson, National Undersea Research Center, UConn)

The sea scallop (Placopecten magellanicus) has over 100 blue eyes along the edge of its mantle, with which it senses light intensity. This mollusk click image for more... (photo: Dann Blackwood, USGS)

The naked sea butterfly (Clione limacina) "flies" through the water by flapping a small pair of wings at the front of its body. It is classified as a gastropod, and has a small coiled shell as an embryo. (photo: Jeff Hannigan)

The American lobster (Homarus americanus) finds homes in rock piles or digs holes in muddy places. Its claws, used for catching and crushingclick image for more... (photo: Dann Blackwood and Page Valentine, USGS)

Northern pink shrimp (Pandallid species) form a ring and slip below an anemone (Bolocera tuidiae), which appears to be click image for more... (photo: Dann Blackwood and Page Valentine, USGS)

This horse star (Hippasteria phrygiana) appears to have a personality of its own. Rows of tube feet along the underside of the star allow it to move along the surface. (photo: Dann Blackwood and Page Valentine, USGS)

Smooth sunstars (Solaster endeca) usually have 9-10 arms; if lost, an arm can be regenerated (as is seen here). These stars come in a variety of colors including reddish, pink, yellow, violet-red, and purple. (photo: Dann Blackwood and Page Valentine, USGS)

The North Atlantic sea cucumber (Cucumaria frondosa) feeds with mucus-covered tentacles that click image for more... (photo: Dann Blackwood and Page Valentine, USGS)

The sea gooseberry (Pleuobrachia pileus) is a ctenophore -- a form of gelatinous zooplankton. Unlike jellyfish, these creatures do click image for more... (photo: Jeff Hannigan)

The moon jelly (Aurelia aurita) is a common jellyfish in these waters. It has four distinct horseshoe-shaped gonads and small tentacles. click image for more... (photo: Jeff Hannigan)

A northern red anemone (Urticina felina) sits atop a rock encrusted with other living organisms, including brachiopods and sponges. click image for more... (photo: Dan Blackwood, USGS - Woods Hole, MA)

The northern cerianthid (Cerianthus borealis) is related to the anemone. Unlike its cousins who grasp onto rocks, the cerianthid buries itself in the sand so that only its oral disk, tentacles and part of its column show. (photo: Dann Blackwood and Page Valentine, USGS)

A downward-looking camera photographed this sea pen (Pennatula aculeata) sitting in the mud. These animals are related to soft corals. (photo: Dann Blackwood and Page Valentine, USGS)

This rock in the sanctuary is an prime example of marine biodiversity. click image for more... (photo: Peter Auster and Paul Donaldson, National Undersea Research Center, UConn)

Diatoms, singly or in chains as in this case, fill the waters over Stellwagen Bank. This golden brown algae turns the water a murky green -- click image for more... (photo: Paul Hargraves, URI)

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