Stellwagen Bank, Monterey Bay: Best Places to See Aquatic Life

April 2016

The results are in: Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary has been named "Best Place to See Aquatic Life" by USA TODAY's 10BEST contest! And Stellwagen Bank isn't the only phenomenal place in the National Marine Sanctuary System to see marine life -- Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary placed a close second.

"On behalf of the aquatic life that reside in Stellwagen and Monterey Bay, and the national marine sanctuary scientists and educators who work to protect critical marine habitat, we're honored that the public has recognized these two sanctuaries as special places for current and future generations to experience the wonders of the ocean," said John Armor, acting deputy director, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

humpback whale breaching in the foreground as people watch from a boat in the background
Caption: Each summer, humpback whales migrate to Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary to feed. Photo: Jeremy Winn

Located off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary is one of the world's premiere whale watching destination. The sanctuary's highly productive waters draw humpback whales, right whales and dolphins each summer to feed and nurse their young, and also serve as an important stopover location for migrating birds. Hop on a whale watching tour or dive into the water to see all this amazing sanctuary has to offer!

a flock of common eiders flying over the water
Caption: Seabirds like common eiders flock to the waters of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Peter Flood

Heading to the West Coast instead? Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is home to more than 525 species of fish, 180 species of seabirds, 34 species of marine mammals, 4 species of turtle, and an incredible abundance of invertebrates and algae. Known as the "Serengeti of the Sea," this sanctuary is an incredible place to view diverse and abundant wildlife.

sea otter on the surface of the water eating an oyster
Caption: Southern sea otters call the kelp forests of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary home. Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA

So what are you waiting for? Learn more about visiting these sanctuaries and others at