Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

Nov. 2016

Recently, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and Reverb teamed up to show Guster what makes Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary so amazing. Check out our video to learn about the incredible whale watching opportunities the sanctuary's rich ecosystem supports, and how you can visit the sanctuary without even getting wet at the New England Aquarium!


Hey I'm Adam from the band Guster and I'm here with Dave Wiley who's the research coordinator for Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. It's home of some of the best whale watching in the world and it's right off the coast of Boston here.

So what exactly is a national marine sanctuary?

National marine sanctuaries you can think of as like most special places in the United States in the water environment. They're a network of underwater parks incorporating more than 170,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes waters.

It's a network that includes 13 national marine sanctuaries and two marine national monuments. The National Marine Sanctuary System protects America's most iconic natural and cultural marine resources.

Stellwagen Bank is apparently one of the best places in the world to see whales? Yeah it really is. Humpback whales are probably the main one; you can come out here sometimes and see 30, 40, even 50 humpback whales feeding in a group, which is pretty spectacular.

So it's a really great great spot to to look at marine life for sure.

What about Stellwagen makes it such a draw for all this sea life?

Food. It's like a gigantic restaurant. The main thing on the menu is this little fish called the sand lance. They're maybe six inches long and about as big around as your thumb. And when they're here they're here by the millions and everybody's eating them.

You know, the commercial fish, the recreational fish, the whales, the seabirds, everything's here to eat those guys.

So what else happens in the Stellwagen Bank?

Oh boy what does happen here? Actually a lot of stuff happens here. We've got a really active program of research and resource protection at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

We also run education and volunteer programs so we can get people involved with the sanctuary. We can actually go visit our education partner, the New England Aquarium, and see some of the exhibits they have that will give you an idea of what's going on in the sanctuary. Particularly, you can see what's going on the bottom of it, which is pretty hard to do.

So this is the cold water tank at New England Aquarium.

So this is basically a replica of what's going on at Stellwagen Bank?

Right. If you're going to portions of the bank that have these big boulder reefs, just a bunch of rocks all piled on top of each other, and this is the type of assemblage of marine life you'd find there.

So you're seeing a lot of soft bodied invertebrates such as these anemones and sea cucumbers and then these fish are redfish, which are in the rockfish family.

We just had a really cool wolffish swim by a minute ago, and of course you've got this giant 15 pound lobster sitting here.

So you'd find this in portions of the sanctuary, but then lots of the sanctuary is really covered by more of a sandy gravel mix of substrate. You find a very different assemblage of marine life hanging out there. And it's just teeming with all this life.

This is crazy to see all this one place and that's what it's like out there, huh?

That's what it's like in some parts but in other parts you can put a camera down and go for long distance without seeing much at all. But it is a hotspot for biodiversity. So if you look at all the Gulf of Maine, Stellwagen Bank kind of stands out as having lots and lots of life.

So we all can visit our own national marine sanctuary, so check it out, go online, find out where the one is closest to you. They're all over the country, even in the Great Lakes and they're there for us to enjoy so let's take advantage.