To use satellite images to study the differences between the Gulf of Maine and the Caribbean

  1. Ask students to make a list of differences between the Gulf of Maine and the Caribbean.
  2. Using the image showing the difference in sea surface temperature, determine what the scale is and how the differences in temperature are indicated. For example, do you think that darker water is warmer or colder? Does the scale show temperature differences in color or in shades of grey?
  3. Once you have determined how the image depicts colder water, locate the colder seas. In general, where is the warmest water in the image? Why are they warmer? Look for areas of cold water along the coast that are caused by upwelling.
  4. Find examples of warm water and cold water currents, and research the names of each of these currents. Examples in the North Atlantic include the Gulf Stream and the Labrador Current.
  5. With the image that depicts phytoplankton density, use the scale on the computer screen to determine where the areas of high phytoplankton density are located.
  6. In general, where do you find areas with higher phytoplankton levels? How does this correlate with the information that you learned from the sea surface temperature image?
  7. Based on information you have from the satellite images, predict where you would find major fisheries of the world (where there are cold water currents or cold water upwellings).
  8. Research the locations of major fisheries of the world (Georges Bank and Grand Bank are two). Compare your research findings with your predictions.

Boston Harbor

Boston Harbor has been cleaned up in recent years and they are currently installing a new secondary treatment plant to process the area's sewage. The outfall for the plant will be 12 miles east of Boston.

What impact do you think the sewage treatment plant will have on phytoplankton production in the area? How could negative effects of the outfall pipe be reduced?


  • images of the Gulf of Maine and the Caribbean showing phytoplankton levels and sea surface temperature