Paul Watson — The Maverick

Photograph — Alex Waterhouse-Haywarad

Paul Watson, 29, with wife Starlet and baby Lilliolani In June 1980 Bob Hunter (one of the original members of Greenpeace) wrote about the young Paul Watson for Malcolm Parry’s Vancouver Magazine. That issue also had in depth article on the situation in Afghanistan and an essay by Les Wiseman on how Torontonians perceived laid back Vancouverites. By 1980 it wasn’t only Bob Hunter who would sit to chat and pitch stories to Parry but also another founder of Greenpeace, Ben Metcalfe. In my years at Vancouver Magazine I had the pleasure of working with both. All I remember about Paul Watson is that I drove to his Kitsilano home and I photographed him with his then wife, Starlet and their new baby Lilliolani. Both parents were warm to me and I had no trouble taking 36 pictures with my Pentax Spotmatic-F equipped with a 35mm lens and Kodak Technical Pan film. Art director Rick Staehling chose, frame 36, the last one. I believe I may have used an umbrella with an Ascor flash as I was yet to become keen on soft boxes. Of Watson Hunter wrote:

No one questioned Watson’s courage. It was just that he was the antithesis of an organization man. Quite uncontrollable. Even Greenpeace saw him as a maverick.

And there is this beautiful paragraph where Hunter describes how Watson’s 206 ft Sea Shepherd rammed the Japanese-owned whaler Sierra which had until then (February 1980) killed 25,000 whales illegally:

When, at the end of Melville’s novel, the great white whale turned and attacked the men who had relentlessly pursued him, Moby Dick was supposed to have “smote the ship’s starboard bow, until men and timbers reeled.” Under Watson’s command, the Sea Shepherd came up on the port side, like a mirror image, but otherwise smashed the Sierra just exactly where the mythical cetacean had creamed Ahab’s “melancholy” Pequod.

Link to: Paul Watson — The Maverick

Originally published at

Into Bunny Watson. I am a Vancouver-based magazine photographer/writer. I have a popular daily blog which can be found at:

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