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Now’s a great time to “Get into Your Sanctuary” – Stellwagen Bank

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Posted by Anne Smrcina, guest blogger of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

Here in Massachusetts, local residents and tourists alike have the opportunity to visit and learn about New England’s  Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary throughout the summer.

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For ocean enthusiasts, interested in exploring the watery side of the sanctuary, or for fans of photography and social media, here are some other options for active participation in the Get Into Your Sanctuary national campaign .

  • Look for whales, seals, seabirds and other marine life from a whale watch vessel out of Boston, Gloucester, Newburyport, Provincetown, Barnstable Harbor or Plymouth (Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary was voted the top place in the U.S. to see aquatic life in a recent USA Today 10Best poll);
  • Catch your dinner during a fishing trip with one of the local licensed charter and party boats;
  • Take the plunge with other experienced divers to explore sanctuary shipwrecks and seafloor habitats;
  • Spread the word about this special place through social media; use the hashtag #ILoveMySanctuary;
  • Enter the Get into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest from June 1 to July 15; information/rules at http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/earthisblue/photo-contest.html or to submit photos (minimum of 1200 pixels wide) go to earthisblue@noaa.gov.  Categories are: Sanctuary Views, Sanctuary Life or Sanctuary Portraits (see rules regarding identifiable individuals and submissions).

If you want to experience Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary without getting wet (or getting on a boat), you can learn about the sanctuary at a number of shore-side exhibits and museums.

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  • Sanctuary exhibit hall at Maritime Gloucester on Harbor Loop along the Gloucester waterfront
  • Sanctuary tanks exhibiting fish and invertebrates from Stellwagen Bank in the Cold Water/Gulf of Maine Gallery in the New England Aquarium, Boston
  • Sanctuary kiosk on MacMillan Wharf, Provincetown;
  • Information at Cape Cod National Seashore’s Province Lands Visitor Center, Provincetown;
  • Sanctuary exhibit at the Center for Coastal Studies’ Sea Discovery Center, off Commercial Street in Provincetown;
  • Sanctuary information at the Woods Hole Science Aquarium, Woods Hole;
  • Sanctuary species “treasure hunt” at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, Route 6A, Brewster;
  • Exhibit on sanctuary shipwrecks at the Scituate Maritime and Irish Mossing Museum; and
  • Traveling exhibit about “Salt,” the sanctuary’s most famous humpback whale, the sanctuary and our Sister Sanctuary program now at The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, CT

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Located at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay between Cape Cod and Cape Ann, the productive Stellwagen Bank ecosystem makes this area one of the world’s premiere whale watching sites and a favorite fishing destination for many.  Recreational boaters transiting between Capes, sail or cruise through much of the sanctuary. Trips into the sanctuary may reward birders with important seabird species for their life lists. Due to active currents and cold waters, dives in the sanctuary, while exciting and interesting, should be considered only by experienced divers and with experienced dive leaders.

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For more information about the sanctuary, visit http://stellwagen.noaa.gov.  For more information about the Get into Your Sanctuary celebration for the National Marine Sanctuaries, go to http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/visit/giys.html.

Tell us what you think of Stellwagen Bank in the comments section below.

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