Open House Activities                     activity page - directions - information - hint - answer

Plot the Temperature Profile

Oceanographers use graphs called profiles to record data measurements at different depths in the ocean. Here are typical temperature, salinity and density profiles.


In our diagram of a whale hunting for giant squid, the temperature contour lines (light blue) are typical for the Atlantic Ocean near the Bahamas. This is one of the places where sperm whales might hunt for giant squid. The whale surfaces for a big gulp of air in nice, warm, 26°C (about 79°F) water. Squid live deep in the ocean where the water (even in the tropics) is a frigid 4°C (about 39°F). The whale's hunting dive to 1500 meters takes about 30 minutes.
  • For each of the given depths in the table:
    1. Fill in the table by first locating the point along the whale's path (dashed yellow line) which is at that depth.
    2. Now estimate the temperature by looking at the values on the closest light blue temperature contours.
    3. Record the temperature for that depth in the table.
    4. Plot the data from the table onto the temperature profile graph.
  • Connect the dots on the temperature profile and you are done. Congratulations!
  • Note: (1) Our whale will feel the temperature change much more quickly at the beginning of the dive. (2) More than half of the dive is in water colder than 10°C (50°F). BRRRRRRR.