Facilitating Science
Stellwagen Bank

RV Manta
Stellwagen Bank research vessel Auk. Credit: NOAA

There are several resources available to researchers at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

Research Coordinator: David Wiley


The sanctuary operates vessels that are used for research, monitoring, and dive operations. The Research Vessel Auk is used for a variety of research projects, as well as for emergency response, enforcement, and education/outreach missions. The catamaran, with its two-hulls, provides a stable platform that maximizes deck space while providing room for wet and dry laboratories and berthing areas for overnight cruises. The sanctuary also operates the 28-foot Gannet, formerly used by the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies as a whale research vessel. See table 1 on Small Boat Requirements Study FY 2006 - FY 2015 for the most up to date list of vessels.



Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary regulations provide for temporary permitting of specific activities that are not otherwise permissible. Such activities are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Permit requests are evaluated based on their potential single and cumulative impacts to sanctuary resources versus the potential benefits the activity may provide in terms of resource protection. Permitted activities are typically research or education oriented.

A permit is required when an individual wishes to conduct an activity within a sanctuary that is otherwise prohibited.  Refer to our Frequently Asked Questions to help determine if a permit is required for your proposed activity.  Guidance on how to apply for a sanctuary permit can be found on this page.

The ONMS has the authority to issue permits to allow some types of activities that are otherwise prohibited by sanctuary regulations, but which generally present a public benefit by furthering the management and protection of sanctuary resources. A permit is required to conduct research within Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.



This sanctuary offers divers a unique opportunity to explore offshore underwater environments of New England, including historical shipwrecks located at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay. Visibility is good up to 30 feet, but strong currents and cold water make it suitable for advanced divers only.


Lab Space

Stellwagen Bank has partnership with many local universities, please contact those universities directly to inquire about available lab space.


Data Buoys

A network of buoys that collect real-time data on oceanic conditions have been deployed in and near the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Collected parameters include wind speed and direction, wave height, dominant wave period, average wave period, air temperature, water temperature and atmospheric pressure. A listing of these buoys may be accessed from here.


Key Documents

Research Needs

Documents that describe the immediate science needs for critical management issues.

Condition Report

The Condition Report is a summary of the status and trend of sanctuary resources, pressures on those resources, and management responses to the pressures that threaten the marine environment.

Technical Reports

Noise Levels and Sources in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and the St. Lawrence River Estuary

Developing Alternatives for Optimal Representation of Seafloor Habitats and Associated Communities in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

The Economic Contribution of Whalewatching to Regional Economies: Perspectives From Two National Marine Sanctuaries