Stellwagen Bank Monitoring Inventory
The monitoring projects in the following inventory take place in or around the Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary National Marine Sanctuary. Projects are conducted by either Sanctuary staff or by our partners. Summary information is presented for each. Use the "Click to for More Details" option to expand the information displayed.

For more information about the monitoring activities at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, please click here, and review the Sanctuary Condition Report.

Contact the research coordinator at the Sanctuary for additional information.


Commercial Shipping
Lead Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Objective Monitor the amount, speed and travel path of commercial shipping transiting the sanctuary.

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Method Vessel transit monitoring is conducted using the Automatic Information System (AIS).

Status Duration Frequency
Active 2004 - present Continuous (real-time)

Links http://stellwagen.noaa.gov/science/tss.html
Partners Massachusetts Port Authority, NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (North East Fishery Science Center), United States Coast Guard, International Fund for Animal Welfare
Keyword(s) cetaceans, vessel traffic

Baleen Whale Entanglement
Lead Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Objective Monitor the number of entangled baleen whales reported from within the sanctuary.

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Method Reports to SBNMS are used to assess and track entanglement numbers.

Status Duration Frequency
Active 1980 - present Continuous

Links http://www.nero.noaa.gov/whaletrp/plan/disent
Partners Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies, NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (North East Fishery Science Center and North East Regional Office)
Keyword(s) cetaceans

Baleen Ship Strikes to Baleen Whales
Lead Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Objective Monitor the number of baleen whale strikes reported from within and around the sanctuary.

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Method Voluntary reports to SBNMS are used to assess ship strike numbers.

Status Duration Frequency
Active 1980 - present Continuous

Links http://stellwagen.noaa.gov/science/standardized_survey.html
Partners NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (North East Fishery Science Center and North East Regional Office)
Keyword(s) cetaceans

NOAA Data Buoy
Lead NOAA National Data Buoy Center
Objective Real-time monitoring of meteorological and oceanographic parameters.

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Method Automated buoy collects continuous data of oceanographic and meteorological parameters.

Status Duration Frequency
Active 2001 - present Continuous (real-time)

Links http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/station_page.php?station=44029
Partners Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing System, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Keyword(s) real time, ocean observing, data buoy

Northeast Regional Association for Coastal and Ocean Observing (NERACOOS)
Lead Gulf of Maine Research Institute
Objective Real-time monitoring of meteorological and oceanographic parameters

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Method Automated buoy collects continuous data of oceanographic and meteorological parameters.

Status Duration Frequency
Active 1980 - present Continuous

Links Information Not Available
Partners Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing System, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, Gulf of Maine Ocean Data Partnership, Open Geospatial Consortium, Alliance for Coastal Technologies, Southeastern Universities Research Association Coastal Ocean Observing and Prediction
Keyword(s) GMOOS, NERACOOS, ocean observing, real time

Commercial Fish Sizes
Lead NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service
Objective Monitor the maximum length of commercial fish species represented in NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service groundfish survey database for the area of the SBNMS.

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Method Service trawl surveys are used to collect samples and assess maximum lengths.

Status Duration Frequency
Active 1960 - present Annual

Links http://spo.nmfs.noaa.gov
Partners Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Keyword(s) groundfish, trawl surveys

Passive Acoustic Monitoring
Lead Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Objective Assess ocean background noise at different frequencies in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, characterize the noise, and understand the acoustic environment experienced and created by vocally-active animals in the SBNMS.

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Method Deployment of marine autonomous recording units (MARUs) to record low-frequency underwater sound (10 to 1000 Hz).

Status Duration Frequency
Active 1996 - present Continuous (real-time)

Links http://stellwagen.noaa.gov/science/passive_acoustics.html/
Partners NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (Northeast Fisheries Science Center), Cornell University
Keyword(s) cetaceans, human use, acoustics

SBNMS Water Quality
Lead Massachusetts Water Resources Authority
Objective Monitor key organic, inorganic and physical properties of the water column in the SBNMS.

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Method Physical properties of the water column were assessed using conductivity, temperature, and depth sensor (CTD), plankton net, and rosette sampler.

Status Duration Frequency
Inactive 2001-2009 Twice per Year

Links http://stellwagen.noaa.gov/science/monitoringprograms.html/
Partners Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Keyword(s) contaminants, water quality, organic, inorganic

Marine Mammal Database
Lead Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Objective Monitor the annual diversity and abundance of cetaceans in the SBNMS.

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Method Visual surveys from vessel(s) transiting sanctuary.

Status Duration Frequency
Inactive 1979-2008 Multiple times per year

Links http://stellwagen.noaa.gov/science/standardized_survey.html
Partners Whale Center of New England, Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies
Keyword(s) cetaceans, whales

Habitat Use
Lead Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Objective Monitor the temporal and spatial patterns of human and marine mammal use of the sanctuary.

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Method Line transect with latitude and longitude calculated for each sighting of habitat use.

Status Duration Frequency
Inactive 1994-present Monthly

Links http://stellwagen.noaa.gov/science/standardized_survey.html
Partners Not Applicable
Keyword(s) cetaceans, human use

Commercial Fisheries
Lead NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service
Objective Monitor commercial fishing vessels and activities occurring within the SBNMS. Data include pounds landed and value by species and gear-type (fish) and number of vessels by port of registry and port of landing (vessels).

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Method Vessel trip reports to NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service are used to assess fisheries within the SBNMS.

Status Duration Frequency
Active 1996 -present Continuous

Links Not Applicable
Partners Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Keyword(s) fish, human use

Acoustic Tagging
Lead Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Objective Use acoustic recording tags (DTAGs) and data visualization software (GeoZUI4D and TrackPlot) to provide fine-scaled data on the underwater behavior of whales.

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Method Attach acoustic tags to whales via suction from a boat with a long pole. Data collected from tag is then transmitted wireless via satellite when whale surfaces.

Status Duration Frequency
Active 2000 -present Annual (Summer)

Links http://stellwagen.noaa.gov/science/DTAG.html
Partners Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, University of New Hampshire, Duke University, University of Hawaii, Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies, Whale Center of New England
Keyword(s) cetaceans, whales, acoustics

Historical Ecology
Lead Andrew Rosenberg (University of New Hampshire)
Objective Historic documents are analyzed to provide information on ecosystem status and resources in centuries past in the sanctuary.

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Method Data are extracted from existing historical sources (ship logs, landing records, etc.)

Status Duration Frequency
Completed 2010 One Year

Links http://stellwagen.noaa.gov/management/fmp/pdfs/sbnms_fmp_4_res_state.pdf
Partners Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, University of New Hampshire
Keyword(s) ecosystem status, historical ecology

Stellwagen Sanctuary Seabird Stewards Program (S4)
Lead Anne-Marie Runfola
Objective Over 100 citizen scientists assist sanctuary and Mass Audubon staff in collecting data with the goals to: systematically collect baseline data on seabirds within sanctuary boundaries to compare populations over time; educate the public about seabirds and connect residents with their sanctuary; and train a group of observers to join our scientists in this groundbreaking project. The resulting data will be used to compare relative abundance of seabirds over time--to help us understand populations within the sanctuary and their possible impacts on local ecosystems and as a barometer for other changes in the environment.

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Method Standardized and non-standardized shipboard survey

Status Duration Frequency
Active 2011 to present Weekly from May - October, and quarterly for standardized surveys on Auk

Links Information Not Available
Partners Massachusetts Audubon Society
Keyword(s) seabirds, survey, habitat use, relative abundance

Whale Watching Data Collection in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Lead Michael Thompson
Objective Volunteers from the Coast Guard Auxiliary are trained by sanctuary staff to collect data from whale watching vessels operating in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Volunteers map the path of the cruise with a GPS unit and make observations regarding the behaviors and sightings of marine mammals and other vessels encountered while on the cruise. In addition, they report violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, entanglements and other issues. They send GPS tracks and data to sanctuary staff for compilation and analysis. These data have been used for the Mass Ocean Plan Cumulative Impacts Assessment projects and Ecosystem Services and acoustic modeling of the sanctuary. This project allows retired Coast Guard members to maintain a presence on the water, while providing data that the sanctuary could not obtain otherwise.

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Method Shipboard survey

Status Duration Frequency
Active 2004 to present multiple days per week; June - September

Links Information Not Available
Partners US Coast Guard; US the Coast Guard Auxiliary
Keyword(s) marine mammals, vessels, trackline



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