NOAA 2002-R426
Contact: Stephanie Balian
NOAA News Releases 2002
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Gerry E. Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary will celebrate its 10th anniversary at Stage Fort Park in Gloucester, Mass., on Saturday with a free festival of exhibits and family activities. The 842-square-mile sanctuary, administered by the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is home to many species of marine mammals, seabirds, and fish, including the endangered northern right whale.

The celebration will include exhibits about the sanctuary, songs and stories from renowned storyteller Jackson Gillman, sea chanties by Gloucester's own musical group "Stamp and Go with Peter Marston," and children's activities.

"We have accomplished so much over the last ten years, and it is great to celebrate our successes with the community," said sanctuary Superintendent Craig MacDonald. "Reflecting on our experiences also helps us prepare for the upcoming management plan review." The sanctuary is planning to revise its 10- year-old management plan and will be conducting a series of public meetings later this year.

The sanctuary celebration will include divers participating in the Great Annual Fish Count, an international program that encourages divers and snorklers to identify and count fish in local waters. Coordinated by the Reef Environmental Education Foundation, this year's fish count will run throughout the month in coastal areas throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, South America and Canada. These fish counts provide valuable information to scientists and resource managers. The GAFC began in 1992 off the coast of California.

In the two years the Stellwagen sanctuary has helped sponsor the Great American Fish Count, more than 250 divers have been trained to identify and count New England fish species. A free Gulf of Maine fish identification class will be offered at Cape Ann Marina in Gloucester. To learn more, visit

Congress designated the Gerry E. Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary in 1992 as "an area of special national significance." Virtually the size of the state of Rhode Island, the sanctuary stretches between Cape Ann and Cape Cod in federal waters off of Massachusetts. The sanctuary is renowned as a major feeding area for marine mammals, particularly humpback whales, and supports an ecosystem of diverse wildlife.

NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary Program increases public awareness of sanctuaries by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration, and educational programs. Today, 13 national marine sanctuaries encompass more than 18,000 square miles of America's ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources. For more information about the Gerry E. Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary anniversary event or fish identification class, please contact Anne Smrcina at (781) 545-8026, Ext. 204 or visit:

NOAA's National Ocean Service manages the National Marine Sanctuary Program and is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving, and restoring the nation's coasts and oceans. NOAA Ocean Service balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats, and mitigating coastal hazards.

To learn more about NOAA Ocean Service and the National Marine Sanctuary Program, please visit