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Ron & Valerie Taylor: Wikis


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Ron Taylor (born March 1934)[1] and Valerie Taylor (born in Sydney 9 November 1935)[1] are prominent Australian shark and underwater experts. Their expertise has been called upon for films such as Jaws, Orca and Sky Pirates.

Ron began diving in 1952, becoming interested in spearfishing and underwater photography. Valerie started diving in 1956 and spearfishing in 1960, eventually winning several Australian championships for ladies in both spearfishing and scuba. [2] They met while both members of St George spearfishing club in Sydney, Australia. They became champion spearfishers, however decided to switch from killing to filming them after becoming fascinated with marine life. Conservation did not begin to be an active movement until the late 1960s.

They married in December 1963 and have no children. They made their living in the 1960s by touring briefly with underwater footage they had filmed. The Taylors are credited with being pioneers in several areas - the first people to film great white sharks without the protection of a cage during the making of the movie "Blue Wilderness" in January 1992, together with South Africans George Askew and Piet van der Walt founders of the S African Great White shark Cage Diving industry. The Taylors were also the first to film sharks by night to name two ground-breaking events. They are also credited with correcting the belief that sharks need to move forward to survive by obtaining footage of sharks sleeping on the sea-bed.

Valerie is also an accomplished watercolour artist. Her career began as a comic strip artist with The Silver Jacket, an Australian adventure magazine for boys.

Ron[2] is a Member of the Order of Australia, and Valerie received the Centenary Medal, both awarded by the Australian government.

50 years after they first ventured underwater, Ron and Valerie Taylor are still active, spending months each year on expeditions to remote corners of the earth to be with the sharks they have learned so much about.



  • 1962:
    • Ron's first award for photography, from Encyclopedia Britannica, for a news film titled, Playing With Sharks.[2]
    • Ron's first major underwater film production, Shark Hunters, made with diving and business partner Ben Cropp was 16 mm black and white, and was sold to Australian television.[2]
  • 1963: Shark Hunters was sold to American television.
  • 1965: Ron won the World Spear fishing Championship in Tahiti, after winning the Australian championship for four years in succession.[2]
  • 1966: Ron received the Underwater Society of America award and the NOGI statuette for Education and Sports.[2]
  • 1967:
    • Ron first devised an idea of a diver wearing a full length chain-mail suit over a wet suit as possible protection against shark bite. It was more than a decade before the suit was made and tested.[2]
    • The Taylors were employed by the Belgian Scientific Expedition to the Great Barrier Reef as advisors and 35 mm underwater cinematographers, for six months, the first major educational project of this type on the Great Barrier Reef.
  • 1969: Ron Taylor co-filmed, Blue Water, White Death which was released worldwide.[2]
  • 1974: The Taylors, assisted by Rodney Fox above water, filmed the short live shark underwater sequences for Jaws. [2]
  • 1979: The suit of chain mail was made which Valerie tested with sharks, when it was found the suit was too small for Ron.[2]
  • 1981:
    • While on a dive trip the Taylors discovered mining claims on several Coral Sea Islands. They brought this to the attention of the Australian Federal Government and saved these remote bird breeding islands.
    • Valerie was honored in 1981 by the Underwater Society of America where she received the NOGI award for Arts.
  • 1982:
    • Wreck of the Yongala, a TV film, was made, showcasing what was then the most spectacular of shipwrecks in shallow water. The film was instrumental in having the wreck protected from fishing.[2]
    • The Taylors, inspired by Cairns game fishermen lobbied, via the media, the Queensland Government and National Parks to have the potato cod of Cormorant Pass near Lizard Island protected.
    • The Taylors spent four months of 1982 in the Persian Gulf filming the underwater scenes for six educational films featuring marine life.
  • 1986:
    • October: Valerie traveled to Holland where she was appointed Rider of the Order of the Golden Ark, by his Royal Highness, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. The award was for her work in marine conservation.
    • Later: Valerie went to Sweden where she finalized the picture selection for a coffee table book, The Realm of the Shark, a biographical account of the Taylors' lives between the late 1950s, and the late 1980s.
    • The Taylors supplied some of their pictures to illustrate the Jacques Cousteau coffee table book entitled Great White Shark.
  • 1992: January: They went to South Africa for filming on the Blue Wilderness TV series. Here they tested an electronic shark repelling barrier, and with George Askew and Piet van der Walt [The founders of the S African Cage Diving industry], became the first people to film great white sharks underwater without the protection of a cage.
  • 1993: Shadow over the Reef, an adventure swimming with whale sharks was filmed at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia. This film was instrumental in preventing the test drilling for oil inside the Ningaloo Marine Park.
  • 1997:
    • The Taylors' documentary Shark Pod was completed. They successfully used the Protective Oceanic Device invented in South Africa by Norman Starkey of the Natal Sharks Board against great white sharks, tiger sharks, hammerhead sharks, and other species. Shark Pod received the jury award at the Antibes Underwater Festival, France, a high honor judged by their peers.
    • April 1997: Valerie won the prestigious American Nature Photographer of the year award for a picture of a whale shark swimming with her nephew in Ningaloo Marine Park. The award was sponsored by The American Press Club.
  • 1998: The Taylors' book Blue Wilderness won the 1998 Gold Palm Award for images at the 25th World Festival of Underwater Pictures in Antibes, France.
  • 1999: Release of the film 'Shadow of the Shark' [3], which reviews Ron and Valerie's long relationship with the sea, and particularly their work with sharks and efforts to change public opinion of them as mindless predators. Film directed by Tina Dalton-Hagege.
  • 2000:
  • 2001: January: Valerie awarded the Centenary Medal.
  • 2002:
    • Australia Day: Valerie was awarded the honor of Australian Senior Achiever of the year.
    • Early 2002: Ron and Valerie received the Serventy Conservation Medal from the Australian Wildlife Preservation Society.[4]
  • 2003: January: Ron awarded Membership of the Order of Australia.
  • 2008: Ron Taylor supports the Great Australian Shark Count Australian Underwater Federation


  • Shark Hunters (1962)
  • Blue Water, White Death (1971)[5]
  • Taylor's Inner Space, a series of 13 films made in 1972 and 1973.


[1] Fathom magazine 1970

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