Shipwreck Telepresence Expedition

Greetings from Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. We have a summer program that may be of interest to you and your students, and the best part is that it’s free.

From August 25-27, the sanctuary, along with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Marine Imaging Technologies, will be exploring the wreck of the passenger steamship Portland and a mystery collier located nearby. The mission will include live broadcasts from the shipwrecks and in-person commentaries from sanctuary staff and WHOI researchers. You and your students are invited to tune in via the mission website and to submit written questions via the internet to the expedition team. The broadcasts will air at 2:30 pm and 6:30 pm on August 25 (Tuesday) from the wreck of the Portland, at 2:30: and 6:30 on August 26 (Wednesday) and 2:30 pm on August 27 (Thursday) from the mystery coal schooner.

The Portland, often labeled New England’s Titanic, was a night boat that made regular runs between Boston and Portland, Maine. She was lost with all hands on November 27, 1898. This year, researchers are attempting to penetrate the ship to examine the engine room and boilers to better understand the ship’s last hours and possible causes for its sinking. Biologists are sampling the invertebrate community that has colonized the wreck to study its similarity to natural boulder reef communities nearby.

The mystery schooner was probably one of many hard-working cargo carriers that brought coal and other products from mid-Atlantic ports to communities in the Northeast. Maritime archaeologists will examine artifacts and vessel construction in an attempt to identify the ship. One interesting observation is the use of copper sheathing on the hull, which continues to serve as an anti-biofouling agent (unlike other sanctuary shipwrecks that are three-dimensional oases for invertebrate life on the seafloor).

Please fill out this form if you are interested in using mission content with your students. Questions from your group can be submitted online during the broadcast. If we can’t reply during the scheduled program, we will get back to you with timely answers at the close of the expedition. If you would like to undertake the challenge of identifying the mystery collier, we would welcome your assistance.

For more information about our 2020 Telepresence Expedition into Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, go to

I look forward to working with you and your students.

Anne I. Smrcina

Education and Outreach Coordinator

NOAA Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

781-546-6007 (Note NEW direct office phone number)

781-738-2242 (mobile)

781-545-8026 (main office)


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