Underwater rover pilot Campbell “Buzz” Scott has been all over — or, more accurately, under — the world’s oceans, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Antarctic. But Mr. Scott, the president of an educational program designed to teach youngsters about marine life and the environment, said he’s excited for his next adventure.
“We’ve never been to Greenport,” he said.
At this year’s East End Maritime Festival, Mr. Scott and Long Island-based scuba diver and shipwreck explorer Brett Curlew will give kids a chance to see Greenport Harbor like never before, from cameras mounted on an underwater rover.
And children won’t just get to look at the bay bottom: they’ll get a chance to pilot the remote device — a roughly 250-pound 3-foot-square device called a Saab Seaeye Falcon DR.
“We want to get as many kids flying it as possible,” Mr. Scott said.
During the demonstrations, children will have the chance to “fly” the underwater rover along the bottom of Greenport’s deep-water harbor, examining lobsters, crabs, oysters and more.
Kids will also get a chance to see an antique diving bell in action.
“To see these kids get excited about it … seeing them energized, it became a no-brainer to me that it’s very important to do the outreach that we’re doing,” Mr. Scott said.
At the all-day demonstration Saturday, Mr. Curlew will also bring in artifacts he’s recovered from various shipwrecks around Long Island, including items from the ocean liner Andrea Doria, the rumrunner Lizzy D off Jones Inlet and the USS Ohio, a sailing ship-of-the-line that was burned and sank in Peconic Bay not far from Greenport more than 130 years ago.
“The history and what’s out here on Long Island is incredible,” Mr. Curlew said.
Mr. Scott has been involved in education since starting Oceanswide, a nonprofit group teaching the next generation of marine researchers and technicians.
Before becoming as educator, Mr. Scott was a fisherman in Maine. One day while he was out on the water, a whale surfaced and stared right at him, he said. That inspired him.
“Ever since I was a little guy, I was interested in seeing what those guys see down there,” he said.
He left the fishing industry as a young man and studied marine science, going on to become a researcher in the Antarctic, an ROV pilot and a colleague of Robert Ballard, the famed oceanographer who discovered the wreck of the Titanic in 1985.
Mr. Scott said Mr. Ballard’s work live-streaming undersea expeditions to schoolchildren across the country inspired him to start his own education program.
“In my mind, he is on par with Jacques Cousteau and all the other greats,” Mr. Scott said.
During Greenport’s Maritime Festival will be the first time Mr. Scott has taken his program to Long Island, thanks to the help of Mr. Curlew, who was excited to see how rovers could help explore the island’s various shipwrecks.
“He brings this new technology to this realm,” Mr. Curlew said of his exhibition partner.
Education is especially important today, the two men said, as changes in the ecosystem due to global warming alters the way oceans work — and how the environment affects us on land.
Mr. Scott said rising water temperatures has caused a domino effect of changing habitats as water farther north gets warmer.
“With climate change being what it is, it’s kind of an opportunity to follow that edge up the Eastern Seaboard,” he said. “We’re seeing big changes up here.”
Mr. Curlew said pollution, global warming and other threats to the ocean make it more important than ever for students to learn about the seas. Plus, he added, a trip aboard a research vessel investigating the oceans can be inspiring.
“Wouldn’t that get you excited if you were a kid?” he said.