eXXpedition North Pacific crew member Jen Russell introduces fellow crew member and scientist Rowan Henthorn:

“There aren’t many people who can pull off a bucket-hat, but Rowan Henthorn is definitely one of them.

Rowan was lucky enough to grow up on the beautiful Isle of Man, where she had a childhood filled with beach trips, and being taken diving by her dad, who is himself a commercial diver. He helped shape her view of the world and develop her love of life underwater. This eventually inspired her to study Ocean Science at Plymouth University, and since then she’s spent time working for dive shops in Indonesia and Australia. Seeing how much Rowan’s face lit up as she described the thrill of showing people the amazing world that lies below the surface of the sea, it’s clear she’s found her purpose in life.

She’s been fortunate enough to have an incredible role model in the form of her mum, Wendy, who’s instilled in Rowan a love for the environment and a sense of duty to protect it. Wendy recently collected almost 2,000 signatures while petitioning the Isle of Man government to ban plastic bags, and while this is still being reviewed, many local shops have voluntarily adopted a policy to stop offering them. With such a determined woman helping guide her through life, it’s no surprise that Rowan has been so single-minded in her vision to protect our oceans.

After spending time back on the Isle of Man undertaking research in benthic ecology, Rowan now works as an advisor to the government on the issue of plastic pollution, and is using her knowledge and passion to directly influence policymakers. She’s also a UNESCO biosphere ambassador for the island and firmly believes that popular culture is an important channel through which to raise awareness and maintain public interest surrounding the issue. She’s led by example in creating her own environmental group called ‘Sustain Our Seas’, a platform which aims to educate and inspire people to take action against plastic pollution through collaborating with artists and creating content to be shared on social media platforms. She’s also spent time visiting schools and educating children on the issue, engaging them with creative games like “bin or beach”, where they’re tasked with deciding where various items belong.

On board Sea Dragon, she makes up one half of our incredibly dedicated and knowledgable science team. Her days are spent collecting samples from the ocean using various means, such as seawater sampling and manta trawling. Rowan collects pollutant samples straight from the manta trawl, and carefully handles them to avoid any contamination managing the rest of the crew as we help with counting fragments from the other trawls. As well as being two of our hardest working crewmembers, Rowan and Emily are possibly the most entertaining scientists you’ll ever meet, and are able to switch at the drop of a (bucket)hat from impressing us with their knowledge to delighting us with their quick wit and energetic silliness.

She’s been an asset to our crew, taking an interest in every aspect of the voyage and making the most of this opportunity to learn from everyone on board. We know that Rowan will keep driving change and making us proud once she’s back on land. We can’t wait to see what she takes on next and we all feel incredibly lucky have her in our gang.”

Rowan says:

“I would like to take this opportunity thank my sponsors for who really made it possible for me to take part in this expedition. It’s really amazing to have been supported by international organisations like Dohle Yachts and Sand Cloud, they really care about the health of our marine environment and understand the value of this vital research.

I would also like to thank the local businesses that supported my fundraising on the Isle of Man before I left. The Foraging Vintners support was unrivalled, you guys were amazing and really helped me put on a great fundraiser, with the help of La Gusto Pizza who supplied some delicious pizza! So much thanks to the companies who donated prizes for the event, 14 North, 7th Wave, Port Erin Paddle Boards, Bushy’s Brewery, The Apple Orphanage, Seven Kingdoms, Fynoderee Gin, Manx Cider Co., Roots Beverage Co., The Secret Pizza Co., Bottle Monkey, Juan King Creations and Sound Records.

Finally I would like to thank Gef the Mongoose for there sponsorship and give a huge thanks to both UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man and the Manx Yout h Opportunities charity for making me an ambassador, I look forward to sharing my knowledge and skills and spreading the word about our beautiful island.”

This update from Sea Dragon is made possible by Iridium Communications, the only mobile voice and data satellite communications network that spans the entire globe.

The North Pacific Crew will be sending us daily updates from Sea Dragon, which will be posted here on the eXXpedition website. You will also be able to see updates from the crew and ground team throughout North Pacific on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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