Space to Sea — A Photographic Journey into Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary

Keith Ellenbogen

Revealing the Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary ecosystem, from the iconic humpback whales to its tiniest microscopic creatures

STAY UP TO DATE on the Space to Sea project!

MIT Sea Grant visiting artist Keith Ellenbogen explores the depths of the diverse marine ecosystem off the coast of Boston and Cape Cod through his project, Space to Sea — A Photographic Journey into Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary. The underwater conservation photographer was awarded a National Marine Sanctuary Foundation Ernest F. Hollings Ocean Awareness Award to fund a three-year exploration and characterization of the sanctuary using lens-based media technologies. At the intersection of art, science, and technology, Ellenbogen works with key MIT Sea Grant scientists, engineers, and students to enrich public perception of local waters.

Space to Sea adds a layer of immersive visual storytelling to the larger environmental and research initiatives linked to the sanctuary. Through underwater photography and a variety of imaging techniques like microscopy and 360˚ virtual reality, Ellenbogen provides a window to the rich biodiversity on par with ecosystems typically associated with tropical climates. From dolphins and mackerel, to exotic planktonic creatures, the photographer captures artistic first images of these iconic species in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (SBNMS).

Integrating educational elements into the project, Ellenbogen collaborates with MIT students to maximize impact. He extends his reach with a student-designed wireless controlled underwater pole camera, and broadens his perspective through student-researched image visualization techniques incorporating NASA satellite data to explore phytoplankton blooms seen from space.

Magnifying a single drop of water to planetary proportions, images of otherworldly creatures inspired citizen marine explorers at the New England Aquarium IMAX Theater on Boston Ocean Day. Space to Sea aims to bring the unique and vibrant ecosystem of this important marine sanctuary to the local community and continues to connect science and art through visual media, environmental storytelling and outreach on a local and global stage.

Interested in learning more?

Connect with Keith, or direct outreach and media inquiries to the MIT Sea Grant Communications Specialist, Lily Keyes.

Check-out Keith’s Project Log for frequent updates!


Rivers Full of Fish
Thursday Oct 22, 1p & 5p EDT (Keith’s Presentation is at 5p)


Lunch & Learn @ MIT Koch Institute Public Galleries
Thursday Sept 24

MIT Museum: Imaging Science Series w/ Felice Frankel, award-winning science photographer (MIT)
June 6, 2020
watch video

Keith presents Celebration of Gulf of Maine ~ images and stories at Gulf of Maine 2050 International Symposium
November 4, 2019

Senate Ocean Caucus in Washington DC, Hosted by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation
September 26, 2019

Capital Hill Oceans Week
June 4-5, 2019


Gulf of Maine 2050 International Symposium 
Monday November 4th 3:30 pm

Senate Ocean Caucus in Washington DC, Hosted by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation
September 26, 2019

Capital Hill Oceans Week
June 4-5, 2019

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Ocean Exploration Expo
Exhibition of Images and Immersive experience using 360VR technology

Panel Discussion: Whale Conservation in the 21st Century

Storycollider podcast: “New York, NY – Fool Me Once”
April 1, 2019

MIT Water Night Digital Exhibition: Exploring the Underwater World of Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary
February 26, 2019
at Walker Memorial Building, MIT

Boston Ocean Day Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary Presentation by Keith Ellenbogen and Dr. Tom Consi
Organized by NOAA Ocean Exploration Conference and MIT Media Lab Open Ocean Initiative
November 10, 2018 at the New England Aquarium IMAX Theatre

Congressional Constituent Cruise, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Invited participant onboard the NOAA AUK for the Congressional Constituent cruise and presentation to highlight the marine wildlife.
August 20, 2018

National Geographic News: 360 VR Encounter with Great White Shark
CBS Local News: Interview with Bill Shields
Boston 25 News: Interview with Chris Flanagan
September, 2018


Keith is a celebrated underwater conservation photographer who is working with MIT Sea Grant as a Visiting Artist at the intersection of art, science and technology, to spark marine conservation and ocean awareness. He is a Senior Fellow with the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP), Fellow with The Explorers Club, an Affiliate Partner with Mission Blue — A Sylvia Earle Alliance. He was a TED Resident and invited to give a TED Talk, CAST Visiting Artist at MIT and a U.S. Fulbright Fellow. He holds an MFA from Parsons School for Design. Keith is an Assistant Professor of Photography at SUNY/Fashion Institute of Technology.



The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation Ernest F. Hollings Ocean Awareness Award aims to increase stewardship of natural and cultural resources in America’s neighboring oceans and Great Lakes. Established in 2005, the award reflects the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s commitment to the legacy of U.S. Senator Ernest F. Hollings, who authored an extraordinary range of laws to safeguard America’s oceans and coasts. To date, the Foundation has awarded nearly $2 million to more than 60 groups for research, conservation, education and outreach projects supporting the National Marine Sanctuary System and healthy oceans.


For over 40 years, the MIT Sea Grant College Program has brought the expertise of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to bear on ocean-related challenges. MIT Sea Grant’s rigorous research program, dedicated outreach programs and integrated educational initiatives are aimed at providing real-world solutions to coastal questions and helping to create the coastal stewards of tomorrow. MIT Sea Grant is dedicated to nurturing a sustainable connection between the arts and sciences that increases ocean awareness and artistic expression.


About Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary is located in our backyard, just 25 nautical miles off the coast of Boston, between Cape Ann and Cape Cod. Similar to our national parks, marine sanctuaries are federally designated areas that protect important natural marine environments and historic resources, while hosting extraordinary recreational activities such as whale watching, fishing, bird watching and shipwreck diving.

About the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation

The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation is the chief non-profit partner for our National Marine Sanctuary System. The Foundation focuses on conserving areas of national significance in America’s neighboring oceans and Great Lakes by engaging citizens and communities in education, research, and on-the-ground conservation work.



Keith Ellenbogen
Project Lead
t: 646-234-9473


Lily Keyes
MITSG Communications Specialist
t: 617-253-3461