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Respectfully, sir, you do not understand the kinship bonds between the tulkun and the ocean Na'vi. It would be like murdering a member of their family!
Garvin trying to discourage Quaritch from hunting.

Dr. Ian Garvin is an RDA field researcher on xenomarine biology on Pandora.


Garvin is a renowned expert on Pandora's oceans and the tulkun. He is also incredibly brave, risking his life while scuba diving in Pandora's predator-filled oceans in order to collect research.[1]

His true love is the Pandoran ocean where he would rather spend time taking samples and capturing data than helping the RDA and their Cetacean Operations meet their quota for hunting tulkun.[2] He would prefer to have nothing to do with the tulkun hunting, but the RDA has threatened to shut down his laboratory otherwise, so he is perpetually balancing his pursuit of scientific knowledge with trying to keep the RDA satisfied and at bay.

Ian Garvin began working on Pandora after the RDA's return to the moon. As a member of SciOps, he was working at Bridgehead, where he was assigned as a crew member under Captain Mick Scoresby. Not long after, he discovered amrita while dissecting a tulkun. This ended up being one of the greatest scientific discoveries to mankind because it prevented human aging. When he told the RDA, however, they began hunting the tulkun on a large scale, causing him frustration due to the violence and death that would be inflicted on them.

Avatar: The Way of Water[]

Spider Garvin

Garvin giving Spider a sympathetic glance after they watch Ro'a's slaughter.

In 2170, Miles Quaritch and his Recoms squad forced him to cooperate in the search for Jake Sully hiding among the Metkayina sea clan. After visiting the village of the Ta'unui clan and burning it down, Garvin and Scoresby introduced him to their profession namely tulkun hunting. Boarding the Matador and leading a group of Picadors, they captured and killed a female tulkun. While the other adults clap and cheer they hunted a tulkun, Garvin is silent and instead looks at Spider, giving him a rather sympathetic glance because he does not enjoy it either, though Spider does not notice it.

The RDA then brought the tulkun aboard and drilled her brain for amrita. During the process, Garvin gave some not-so-subtle hints to Spider about he hated the whole process, commenting how the tulkun are highly intelligent and deeply emotional. Garvin was very annoyed when Scoresby joked about dropping the amrita vial, with Garvin saying the hunting is why he drinks.

After the whole brain drilling process, the RDA threw her corpse into the water. The slain tulkun turned out to be Ro'a, a female who was the spiritual sister of Ronal, the Tsahìk of the Metkayina Clan. Thus, they drew upon themselves the wrath of the clan, which launched an attack on the crew of the SeaDragon as revenge. Quaritch tried to stop the attack by threatening to kill the captured Sully children, however his plans were thwarted by Payakan's attack, as well as sabotage by Spider, who attacked the bridge crew and crippled the ship.

During the battle, Garvin and Scoresby boarded a Matador to intersect the Sully children and the Metkayina clan's children. However, Scoresby spotted Payakan and instead attempted to harpoon him. Payakan dodged the harpoon and tangled it on his head, pulling the boat forward and beaching it on some nearby rocks. Some of the boat's crew were thrown off the Matador. Payakan was able to wrap the wire around the boat which Garvin saw and shouted for everyone to duck. However, Scoresby was pinned against the harpoon launcher. With a strong tug, Payakan cut Scoresby's arm off and launched the tulkun hunter into the water along with his severed arm. Following the battle, it is revealed that Garvin survived the attack.


  • He is named after John Garvin who worked to supervise the safety of the cast underwater.[3]
  • In the original script, while floating in the water, Garvin meets Payakan. Payakan notices Garvin's shaking hands and when Garvin uses sign language to say "friend", Payakan leaves Garvin alone.
  • It was shown in a deleted scene that Garvin along with a one armed Scoresby survived the attack against the Na'vi. They will most likely return in Avatar 3.
  • James Cameron mentioned he is one of his favorite characters.[4]
  • There is a line in The Visual Dictionary which suggests he knows Tonowari and may have interacted with him and the clan a few times before. It says, "Then his mobile lab can dock with the landed setup and, if he needs it to interface with olo'eyktan (clan leader) Tonowari or the Reef People, his lab can drop anchor in their cove for easy access."

Memorable Quotes[]

  • Who’s got the harpoon now? - when Payakan is snags the harpoon cord
  • It's why I drink. - when Scoresby mentions Garvin's research is funded by killing tulkun
  • I thought you were the intelligent species here, Scoresby! - Garvin taunting Mick Scoresby