On behalf of OceansWide, welcome! I’m Campbell Scott “Buzz.” I’m the founder of OceansWide and I’d like to share the story of why I began this unique organization.
A Peapod and 25 Wooden Traps
I began my adventure as a young fisherman on Matinicus Island, Maine. My love for the ocean grew greater with time and I thank my parents for providing me with my first boat at the age of 12. It was a small double ended boat called a peapod and it came with 25 wooden traps. For years I rowed that peapod around Matinicus, exploring its coves, beaches and ledges, fishing for lobsters, cod, mackerel and flounder and anything else that might swim, wiggle or crawl.It all started for me as I rowed around the shallow water. I constantly found myself looking over the side of that little boat. I was claiming that I was trying to find the best spot to set my traps, but in reality I was looking down into the water as far as I could see. As I grew older and began seining for herring, setting long lines for halibut and dragging for scallops there was one thing that never changed. I always found myself looking over the side, watching and waiting yet again to see what would come up from below and the ocean never ceased to amaze me.
The Early Years as A Fisherman
In my early years as a young fisherman, I saw halibut the size of barn doors, weighing three and four hundred pounds being pulled from the water just offshore from my house and I remember fishing on scallop boats that would have to stop fishing because their decks were so full that if they caught another scallop they would have to leave the drags hanging in the air until we made room for them on deck. One of my favorite memories as a kid is that of fishing with hand lines and catching large ground fish so plentiful that our hooks would never make it to bottom before being hit. In fact, the fish were so big that people today wouldn’t believe we’d caught them without photographic proof.There were times when I watched humpback whales feeding on giant schools of herring, and as far as the eye could see in every direction, dolphin in the thousands speeding through the waters off Matinicus Rock heading for some secret destination.Those days were amazing and made me feel that I could be happy staying on Matinicus, fishing forever as many generations had done before. But, as we all know, fishing didn’t continue like that and by 1987 things had really changed. The lobster catch had dropped off in such a way that it was difficult to make a living as a fisherman. Cod, halibut and other ground fish were disappearing and the industry showed signs of worsening. Just like many others on the coast of Maine, I was forced to leave. I had spent seventeen wonderful years in the Gulf of Maine and I would miss it. It was a difficult decision to leave the island but I felt that if I had to give up fishing perhaps the best thing for me to do would be to study fishing and the fisheries industry. Perhaps I could learn something that would enable me to help the industry stay alive. Perhaps someday maybe I could even return to work and live on the Gulf of Maine.
From College to Anarctica
After studying at the University of Maine, I went to work for the US Antarctic Program in 1994. For four years; I sailed on a research ice breaker ship, the Nathanial B. Palmer.My job onboard was helping visiting scientists conduct their research as we sailed through the icy waters surrounding Antarctica. Once again, I found myself hypnotized by the ocean and wanting to know more and more about what was down below the surface.
"Flying" the ROV
From Antarctica I moved north and joined the team at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in sunny California. Now I had an opportunity to see parts of the Pacific Ocean and it was here that I finally had a real opportunity to answer my life-long question, “What is down there”?I became a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) pilot. An ROV is tethered, unmanned submersible. ROVs give us the ability to look deep into the oceans. This helped answer the question “what is down there?” in such great detail – more than you could ever imagine!I spent eight years “flying” this ROV within the depths of the Pacific Ocean and the canyons that lie beneath it. Working with and learning from some of the most educated and interesting people I had ever met was truly inspiring. Together we studied science, engineering and history. Writers, film makers and educators who wanted to tell and show the world the secrets of our oceans joined us.
The Beginnings of OceansWide
As I sat in the pilot’s chair watching and learning from them my imagination again began to run wild and it wasn’t long before I was asking questions… again. Why wasn’t this around when I was a kid? Wouldn’t it have been an adventure? I could have learned so much more, so much sooner in my life. And now that we have this technology, can’t we use it for education? How could I help today’s students experience this first-hand? I knew if they could peek into the depths of the oceans by learning to fly an ROV. It would fire their enthusiasm just as it has done for me as an adult. If we could give them this experience early in life, where might they go from there? And how might they help protect our fragile ocean planet so that fish and whales and all manner of marine life continue to thrive? These questions were easy to answer.
And so began the process of designing and building the OceansWide project. OceansWide: Opportunity for Creating Environmental Awareness NationS WIDE. Our mission is to introduce students to marine science through technology and to empower them to learn, grow and thrive through experiential education.My life&’s focus is now to use ROV’s as educational tools which will give students the unique opportunity to study the Gulf of Maine never before available. My intent is that OceansWide will become a platform for sustaining our oceans and fisheries for generations.
I’ve started OceansWide with the hope that maybe someday my descendants might have a peapod and 25 wooden traps to go with it…