Picture of a humpback whale breaching the surface

Satellite Data Questions and Activities
Analyze your own Satellite Data


WhaleNet STOP Data Questions and Activities

How to interpret the satellite data transmissions.


The data from monitoring a marine animal can be used in a variety of ways. Questions and activities you might pursue:

1. How far does the animal travel in a day? (average) A week? A month? How many miles did it travel on its northward migration? How far has it traveled since it was tagged?

The Distance Generator can be used to determine the distance and heading between any two fixes.

2. After working with the latitude/longitude figures for your marine animal, what are your thoughts on its journey. In what direction is the animal traveling? Why do you think it is traveling in this direction? If it is migrating why is it taking this route/going to this destination? Why do these animals travel/migrate? Why is the animal in this area? Is there much human activity in this area? If so, what kind? What impact or effect might this human activity have on this whale population?

3. What is the animalšs average rate of travel? The scale of distance is one nautical mile equals one minute of latitude. So if one degree equals 60 minutes of latitude, how many nautical miles equal one degree of latitude? five degrees of latitude?

4. What conclusions can you reach about the animalšs movements using this data? What conclusions can you not reach about the whalešs movements?

5. The atmospheric pressure (atm) exerted upon us at sea level is about 14.7 lbs/square inch (760 mm Hg). When a person dives the pressure exerted by the water increases by 1 atm for each 10 meters (30 ft) the person goes down. Identify the deepest dive made by the marine animal. What is the approximate pressure exerted at that depth?

6. Create a table including date, latitude and longitude, time and depth of dives for your animal.

a. Plot the locations of the dives over 400 meters. At what location did the animal make most of its deepest dives? What is the depth of the water at that location? What is the depth of the water at that location? Was there any pattern to the dive locations? Note: You can use a navigation chart, download a map from WhaleNet, or use the Map Generator link on WhaleNet.

b. List the times of day when the animal made its deepest dives. Is there a specific time of day, or range of times, when it made its deepest dives? Why does the animal most frequently dive deeply at this time?

c. Calculate the percent of dives made at each specific depth range. Make a pie chart/graph of the percent frequency of each dive depth range. In what depth of water is it most of the time? Why does the animal most frequently go to this depth?

d. What type of graph would best represent the percent of the frequency at each dive depth vs. the dive depth range? A bar graph? A line graph? A pie graph? Graph the results using each method. How does one determine which type of graph is best in a specific situation? Note; When using a line or bar graph, the normal procedure is to place the independent variable on the x-axis and the dependent variable on the y-axis.

7. What percent of time does the animal spend at the surface?

8. Does the animal spend more time at the surface in a specific location?

9. What other questions do you have about your animal? How could you find the answers? What other information would you need?

10. Why use satellite tags? Why use satellite tags with whales or marine animals?

11. Are satellite positions always accurate? Why or why not? What precautions must you take as a researcher to insure accuracy?

12. What information is missing?


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