Jon Bowermaster

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Jon Bowermaster
Born (1954-06-29) June 29, 1954 (age 65)
OccupationOceans Expert, Journalist, Author, Filmmaker, Adventurer

Jon Bowermaster—(born in Normal, Illinois, on June 29, 1954) is a noted oceans expert, award-winning journalist, author, filmmaker, adventurer and six-time grantee of the National Geographic Expeditions Council.[1]

Background and education[edit]

Born in Normal, Illinois, in 1954, Jon grew up in suburbs of Chicago and Rockford, Ill., until attending Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, where he worked at the Des Moines Register for two years as a student. He graduated in 1976 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. In 1977, Jon received his master's degree in public affairs reporting from American University in Washington, DC.


Early career[edit]

After graduate school, Jon moved to New York City to work for New Times magazine, before returning to Iowa as co-founder and editor of the weekly alternative newspaper The Daily Planet (then The Planet). Living in Iowa from 1977–1984, he wrote his first book, Governor: An Oral Biography of Robert D. Ray, and worked in the commercial film business producing industrial films, television commercials and his first documentary films for Iowa Public Television. In 1985, Jon moved back to New York, taking a job as managing editor of Record magazine, owned and published by Rolling Stone. From 1986 to 1998, he worked as a freelance magazine writer for numerous national and international publications, including The New York Times Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, New Republic, Outside, Men’s Journal and many more.

First National Geographic Assignment[edit]

In 1986, Jon befriended polar explorer Will Steger – who had just returned from a historic, unsupported dogsled adventure to the North Pole. As Steger was negotiating the rights to the story of his upcoming Trans-Antarctica expedition, he introduced Jon to editors at the National Geographic Magazine who assigned Jon to cover Steger’s seven-month-long crossing of Antarctica by dogsled in 1989–1990.

OCEANS 8[edit]

From 1998–2008, Jon’s OCEANS 8 project, a series of expeditions to explore the world's ocean from the seat of a sea kayak, allowed Jon and his teams—comprising some of the world's best photographers, filmmakers, scientists and navigators—to reach corners of the world rarely seen. The trips were funded primarily by grants from the National Geographic Expeditions Council and corporate sponsors including Mountain Hardwear, Timberland and others.

Jon began the project with the dream of visiting each of the seven continents, plus Oceania. Comprising eight adventures, the long-term project took Jon and his teams to the heart of the Aleutian Islands, down the coast of Vietnam, through the Tuamotu Atolls in French Polynesia, across the high plains of Bolivia/Chile/Argentina, and up the wild coastline of Gabon in West Africa. Jon explored Croatia's Dalmatian Coast, and visited Tasmania in 2006.[2] In February 2008, Jon and his team completed the final expedition in the 10-year-long project, along the Antarctic Peninsula.

Stories from each OCEANS 8 expedition resulted in books, magazines, lectures, television programs and educational curriculum for the National Geographic Society.[3]


After Jon’s first trip to Antarctica with Will Steger, he developed a passion for the continent and has made many trips back since, to both the high, cold interior and along its 600-mile Peninsula. In 2008 Jon completed his ten-year OCEANS 8 project with a trip to the Larsen Ice Shelf and the Antarctic Peninsula, which is the subject of his recently[when?] released film, TERRA ANTARCTICA: Rediscovering the Seventh Continent. The high-definition, hour-long film chronicles Bowermaster’s exploration of the Peninsula by sea kayak, foot and small plane and was named the best “Ocean Issues” film at the 2009 BLUE Ocean Film Festival in Savannah, Georgia in June 2009.[4]

Notes From Sea Level Blog[edit]

Over the years, Jon has traveled to more than 80 countries, or roughly one third of the world’s nations, giving him a unique perspective on how the world is impacted by many of today’s hotly debated environmental issues, including climate change, plastic pollution, overfishing and more.

Through his Web site,, and daily blog, Notes From Sea Level, Jon continues his reporting on the health of the world’s ocean and lives of people who depend on it.[5]

Media coverage[edit]

Jon’s books, films and adventures have received significant media coverage in a wide range of outlets including The New York Times,[6][7] National Geographic,[8] The Washington Post,[2] Scientific American,[9] Men’s Journal,[10] ABC's Good Morning America,[11] National Geographic Adventure,[12] The Huffington Post,[13] Condé Nast Traveler,[14] Sierra Trading Post,[15] PlumTV,[16] EarthKeepers, Voice of America,[17][18] ABC News,[19][20],[21] Canoe & Kayak,[22] Wend, Adventure Kayak,[23][24] Paddler[25] and Men’s Vogue[26]

Awards and grants[edit]

2009, BLUE Ocean Film Festival, “Terra Antarctica” Best Ocean Issues Film[4]

2008, Croatia’s “Golden Pen” award[27]

2008, “Birthplace of the Winds,” Best Adventure Travel film, Reel Paddling Film Festival[28]

2007, Santa Barbara Ocean Film Festival, “OCEANS 8” Best Oceans Series

1999, Lowell Thomas award for Environmental Reporting

1998–2008, six grants from National Geographic Expeditions Council[1]


  • Governor: An Oral Biography of Robert D. Ray, 1987
  • Saving the Earth: A Citizen's Guide to Environmental Action, co-authored with Will Steger, 1990
  • Crossing Antarctica, co-authored with Will Steger, 1993
  • The Adventures and Misadventures of Peter Beard In Africa, 1993
  • Over the Top of the World, co-authored with Will Steger, 1999
  • Birthplace of the Winds: Adventuring in Alaska's Islands of Fire and Ice, 2001
  • Aleutian Adventure: Kayaking in the Birthplace of the Winds, 2001
  • Alone Against the Sea and Other True Adventures, 2004
  • Descending the Dragon: My Journey Down the Coast of Vietnam, 2008
  • Wildebeest in a Rainstorm: Profiles of Our Most Intriguing Adventurers, Conservationists, Shagbags and Wanderers, 2009


  • Birthplace of the Winds: Sea Kayaking Alaska, 2006
  • The Lost Coast of Gabon: Sea Kayaking West Africa, 2006
  • Around Tasmania: Sea Kayaking Australia, 2006
  • Into the Altiplano Part 1: Sea Kayaking Argentina, Bolivia & Chile, 2006
  • Into the Altiplano Part 2: Sea Kayaking Argentina, Bolivia & Chile, 2006
  • Borderland: Sea Kayaking Croatia, 2006
  • A Slow Boat to Somewhere: Exploring French Polynesia, 2004
  • The Dangerous Archipelago: Sea Kayaking French Polynesia, 2004
  • TERRA ANTARCTICA: Rediscovering the Seventh Continent, 2009

In Production:

  • SoLA: A Louisiana Water Story
  • What Would Darwin Think? Man Versus Nature in the Galapagos
  • Bluefin: In the Wake of Big Tuna



  1. ^ a b "About Jon Bowermaster". Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  2. ^ a b "The Washington Post – How a Kayak Can Get You a Long Way, Even in the Desert". The Washington Post. February 10, 2008. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  3. ^ "Jon Bowermaster OCEANS 8". Archived from the original on January 12, 2012. Retrieved January 12, 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  4. ^ a b "BLUE Ocean Film Festival". BLUE Ocean Film Festival. January 6, 2012. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  5. ^ "Notes from Sea Level Blog". Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  6. ^ Hammer, Joshua (December 5, 2008). "The New York Times – Sunday Book Review – Holiday Books – Travel". The New York Times. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  7. ^ Revkin, Andrew C. (December 4, 2008). "The New York Times – World – Cruise Boat Runs Aground Off Antarctica". The New York Times. Antarctic Regions. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  8. ^ "National Geographic – Special Report: The Sinking of the Explorer". October 17, 2002. Archived from the original on January 23, 2012. Retrieved January 12, 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  9. ^ Post a Comment (November 10, 2008). "Scientific American – Kayaking Antarctica with Jon Bowermaster". Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  10. ^ "Men's Journal – Paddling the Seas" (PDF). Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  11. ^ 10/08/2009. "ABC News – Good Morning America – Fish Can't Survive in 'Fishing Dead Zone'". Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  12. ^ "National Geographic Adventure – Adventure Travel in Antarctica – The White Continent Heats Up". November 25, 2008. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  13. ^ "The Huffington Post – Antarctic Evolution". Huffington Post. April 3, 2008. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  14. ^ Bowermaster, Jon. "Condé Nast Traveler – Places + Prices: St. Vincent and the Grenadines – 32 If By Sea". Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  15. ^ "Sierra Blogging Post – Podcast: Ironman Dave Scott, Author Jon Bowermaster". Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  16. ^ Your name:   Bobo (February 19, 2009). "PlumTV – Sport & Outdoors – Unlimited Adventures: Jon Bowermaster". Retrieved January 12, 2012.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  17. ^ "Voice of America – Adventurer Explores World by Kayak". Youtube. December 9, 2008. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  18. ^ Voice of America – Global Adventurer Bowermaster Explores World's Coasts by Sea Kayak
  19. ^ February 2, 2008. "ABC News – Kayaking Among Glaciers". Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  20. ^ "ABC News – Nature's Edge: Antarctica". January 14, 2008. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  21. ^ " Video Network – Jim Clash Interviews Ocean's 8 Film-maker Jon Bowermaster". Youtube. August 7, 2007. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  22. ^ "Canoe & Kayak – Ends of the Earth – OCEANS 8 in Photos" (PDF). Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  23. ^ "Adventure Kayak – From the seat of a kayak, looking out" (PDF). Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  24. ^ "Adventure Kayak – Flotsam & Jetsam – News from the Paddling World – The Ocean Ambassador" (PDF). Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  25. ^ "Paddler – 40 Degrees and Rising" (PDF). Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  26. ^ "Men's Vogue – The Ocean Explorer" (PDF). Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  27. ^ Čeština. "Croatian National Tourist Board". Retrieved January 12, 2012.[permanent dead link]
  28. ^ "Reel Paddling Film Festival". Reel Paddling Film Festival. Archived from the original on September 9, 2012. Retrieved January 12, 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)

External links[edit]