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Traverse City “Below The Bay” Program Dives Underwater In Grand Traverse Bay

"You can find trash, you can find shipwrecks, you can find all kinds of things down there."

It’s like swimming right alongside the fish under the waves of Grand Traverse Bay.

One program is putting the controls in your hands.

The Inland Seas Education Association in Traverse City is putting people at the helm of robotics called ROV’s, or “Remote Controlled Vehicles.”

The "Below the Bay" program teaches people of all ages how to use them, all while on the deck of a schooner.

9&10’s Cody Boyer got a chance to “fly” underwater and has more details.


"We teach them how to fly, which is what we call it in the industry,” says Clayton Harbin, the man behind the robotics in this program for Inland Seas. “They see some amazing things underwater."

It’s like taking the controls of your own personal fish — for science.

Inland Seas is making that a reality.

"They get to fly their own ROV, then they get to build their own and test it,” Harbin says. “It kind of helps educate them about really just how much goes into to building these ROVs."

The class puts the controls of a remote control underwater vehicle into the hands of anyone.

"I thought it was hard,” laughs Jan Ostrowski, who participated in the class with her husband, Pete. “I mean, I don’t do much video-gaming so I’m like up, down, back, forth. I’m not sure what’s going on here."

The controls for both of these are actually similar, if you are familiar with them, to video games, so people of all ages can get a chance to easily learn these systems on two different ROVs.

"Well, it’s hands-on,” Pete Ostrowski says. “You get to do exactly what we had hoped for and that was to drive and see how they work."

"A lot of people don’t really know these exist, and they might be kind of aware of it, but they don’t really know the ins and outs, so for them to come on, get their hands on some of this really cool equipment, the first time you see that underwater footage, their eyes light up,” Harbin says.

It costs $10 for a 15-minute one-on-one lesson, $17 for longer.

…And with each ROV worth up to $11,000 in this program…in the name of science, it’s quite the experience.

"We use them in the scientific community a lot,” Harbin says. “We can take sediment samples, water samples. They are also heavily used in search and recovery operations. The more people we can educate, we think it’ll help benefit the great lakes."

“Amazing, especially when it’s going to turn kids on,” Jan says. “It’ll get them interested in science. Get them out on the water."

“See if they can use their video game skills for something,” Pete laughs.

You can take a look at Inland Seas’ future schedule for upcoming events when you .

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