Tagging Project Offers New Insights on Right Whales
In August, scientists from the sanctuary and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution tagged an adult female right whale. This was the first successful tagging of a right whale in the sanctuary. The tag was attached with suction cups and remained on the whale for 70 minutes, allowing the scientists to collect information for several feeding dives. Typically, a dive involved a rapid descent to 60-90 feet, six to eight minutes at depth, and then rapid ascent back to the surface. The studies showed that these whales are spending most of their time in the danger zone where they may be struck by ships. By better understanding whale behavior, more effective conservation strategies may be developed. Northern right whales are one of the most endangered whale species. Less than 300 are thought to remain in the North Atlantic Ocean. Click here to learn about humpback whale tagging research.
Portland Added to National Register of Historic Places
The coastal steamship Portland, often referred to as New England’s Titanic, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The registry is the nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. Sunk in 1898 in a fierce northeaster, the wreck qualified for listing because the sinking was a significant event in New England’s history, and the steamship’s remains are one of the best preserved of any New England “night boat” (passenger vessels with overnight schedules) found to date. Its archaeological remains will also yield important historical information about the lives of New Englanders. The Science Channel aired a one-hour special on the Portland and archaeologists are continuing their research to unlock the shipwreck’s mysteries.
Exhibit at New England Aquarium Opens
A significant Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary component of a Gulf of Maine exhibit is on display at The New England Aquarium’s cold water gallery. In two large tanks, sanctuary species attract the attention of curious aquarium-goers. The large, modern bow-fronted tank offers a glimpse of a boulder reef filled with shy Acadian redfish, graceful northern red anemones, impressive lobsters, and colorful sea stars. A second, more traditional tank shows the top of a sandy bank with cod, spiny dogfish, haddock and other groundfish species. The site helped fund the exhibit, in part, with the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.
Exclusive Stories for the Web
Live Broadcast from the steamship Portland
Two live video feeds were relayed from the shipwreck of the steamship Portland located in the sanctuary to viewers at the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum and directly onto the Internet. Viewers of the live broadcasts witnessed a remarkable underwater tour of this fragile, historic shipwreck, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places earlier in 2005. The Portland’s remains dramatically convey the terrible ordeal its passengers must have experienced prior to the steamship’s sinking. Furthermore, the biological diversity on the wreck illustrates the sanctuary’s rich ecosystem and provides a sharp juxtaposition with the human loss associated with the shipwreck. The project was conducted in partnership with the National Undersea Research Center for the North Atlantic and Great Lakes at the University of Connecticut and NOAA’s Preserve America Initiative
Graduate Course Offered on Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary
Over a twelve week period (from February through May) the sanctuary, in cooperation with the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History offered a unique graduate level course that focused on sanctuary resources and management issues entitled, “Ocean Treasures: The Natural and Cultural Resources of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Three graduate credits were granted by Framingham State College’s Continuing Education Program for the course. Each week one or two guest speakers all leaders in their fields provided overviews on cutting edge research and in-depth reviews of resource status. The presenters came from NOAA programs, other government agencies, research institutions, and non-profit organizations. Over 70 individuals registered for the course, 25 for graduate credit, the others as auditors, with special rates provided to whale watch naturalists. Overall response to the course was excellent, with many respondents claiming that this was one of the most enlightening and consistently instructive of any such program. The sanctuary hopes to repeat the course in future years.
Plans for 2006
The site will release its draft management plan. Twelve action plans, developed by working groups of the Sanctuary Advisory Council, form the core of this new plan. Also this year, staff expect delivery of a new 48-foot catamaran research vessel. Sanctuary maritime archaeologists will nominate the Frank A. Palmer and Louise B. Crary shipwreck site to the National Register of Historic Places. These two coal schooners collided and sank while hurrying into Boston during a December 1902 energy crisis. The public can expect a newly redesigned Web site, with special sections highlighting research projects, educational opportunities and management activities.