Ron & Valerie Taylor
||This biographical article is written like a résumé. (July 2011)|
|Born||Ronald Josiah Taylor
8 March 1934
|Died||9 September 2012
underwater still photographer & cinematographer
|Known for||Expertise with sharks, conservation advocacy, underwater sports champion|
|Born||Valerie May Heighes
9 November 1935
underwater still photographer & cinematographer
|Known for||Expertise with sharks, conservation advocacy, underwater sports champion|
Ron Josiah Taylor, AM (8 March 1934 – 9 September 2012) was a prominent Australian shark expert, as is his wife, Valerie May Taylor née Heighes, AM (born 9 November 1935). Their expertise has been called upon for films such as Jaws, Orca and Sky Pirates.
Ron began diving in 1952, become interested in spearfishing and underwater photography and in 1965, he won the World Spearfishing Championship in Tahiti after winning the Australian Open Spearfishing Championships for four years in succession. Valerie was born in Sydney, started diving in 1956 and spearfishing in 1960, eventually winning several Australian championships for ladies in both spearfishing and scuba. The couple met while both were members of the St George Spearfishing Club in Sydney. They became champion spearfishers, but switched from killing sharks to filming them after becoming fascinated with marine life. They married in December 1963 at Hurstville, N.S.W., and had no children. They made their living in the 1960s by making wet suits and selling underwater cameras, plus doing artwork for magazines. The Taylors were credited with being pioneers in several areas — the first people to film great white sharks without the protection of a cage or anything else during the making of the (released on video) series Blue Wilderness in January 1992, a huge milestone in ocean exploration together with South Africans George Askew and Piet van der Walt, founders of the South African great white shark cage diving industry. They also filmed the shark sequences for the film Orca. The Taylors were also the first to film sharks by night.
- 1962: Ron's first major underwater film production,The Shark Hunters, made with diving and business partner Ben Cropp was filmed in 16 mm black/white, and was sold to Australian television.
- 1963: Shark Hunters was sold to American television.
- 1964: Slaughter at Saumarez filmed in The Coral Sea from aboard Captain Wally Muller's fishing boat Riversong.
- 1965: Ron won the World Spearfishing Championship in Tahiti, after winning the Australian championship for four years in succession.
- 1965: A joint venture with surfing film producer Paul Witzig produces Surf Scene featuring top surfers Robert Conneeley, Russell Hughes, Kevin Brennan and Tanya Binning surfing new locations at Noosa Heads and Double Island Point, Queensland.
- 1966: The Taylors sell their shark documentary Revenge of a Shark Victim to producer Robert Raymond who wins a Logie for his adaptation with new footage.
- Ron and Valerie filmed The Cave Divers in the area surrounding Mount Gambier, South Australia.
- The Taylors assisted by diver John Harding film and photograph a large whale shark underwater off Sugarloaf Point, Seal Rocks, NSW.
- 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.
- 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 with Stan Waterman and Peter Gimble which was released worldwide.
- 1974: The Taylors, assisted by Rodney Fox (above water), filmed the live shark underwater sequences for Jaws.
- 1979: The suit of chain mail was made which Valerie tested with sharks, when it was found the suit was too small for Ron.
- 1979: The Taylors filmed the underwater scenes with the principal actors and the body-double for, The Blue Lagoon.
- 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.
- Wreck of the Yongala, a TV documentary, 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.
- The Taylors, inspired by Cairns game fishing charter boat captain, Peter Bristow, 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.
- 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: The couple traveled to South Africa for filming on the Blue Wilderness TV series. They tested an electronic shark repelling barrier there. With George Askew and Piet van der Walt (the founders of the South African Cage Diving industry), they became the first people to film great white sharks underwater without using 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 shark species.
- 1999: Release of the film Shadow of the Shark, which reviews Ron and Valerie's long relationship with the sea, and particularly their and efforts to change public opinion of sharks as mindless predators. The film was directed by Tina Dalton-Hagege.
- 2008: Ron Taylor supports the Great Australian Shark Count (Australian Underwater Federation)
- 2012: Ronald Taylor dies on 9 September 2012, aged 78, following a two-year battle with acute myeloid leukemia.
- 2014: Valerie campaigns against an Opposition Bill to remove sanctuary zones from marine parks in South Australia.
- Playing with Sharks for Movietone News, 1962.
- Shark Hunters, 1963; with Ben Cropp.
- Slaughter at Saumarez 1964.
- Skindiving Paradise, 1965.
- Revenge of a Shark Victim, 1965; about Rodney Fox (re-edited by Robert Raymond into SHARK which subsequently received a Logie Award.)
- Surf Scene, 1965.
- Will the Barrier Reef Cure Claude Clough?, 1966.
- Belgian Scientific Expedition, 1967.
- The Underwater World of Ron Taylor 1967 presented by John Harding Underwater Promotions
- The Cave Divers, 1967; for W.D. & H.O. Wills (Aust)
- Sharks, 1975; for Time-Life Television.
- The Great Barrier Reef, 1978; for Time Life Television.
- The Wreck of the Yongala, 1981.
- The Great Barrier Reef (IMAX), 1982; technical consultants.
- Operation Shark Bite, 1982.
- Give Sharks a Chance, 1991; with Richard Dennison for National Geographic Society and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
- Shark Shocker 1993 (with Richard Dennison) for Channel 4 UK.
- Shadow over the Reef, 1993.
- Mystique of the Pearl, for Film Australia, 1995.
- Shark Pod, 1996.
- Shadow of the Shark, 1999; for Australian Geographic.
Television series and movies
- Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, Episode 3 - Golden Reef (1968) - original story & Episode 57 - The Shark Taggers(1969) - underwater sequences
- Contrabandits (30 episode series), 1967–68; underwater sequences and diving instruction for cast.
- Barrier Reef (39-episode series), 1971 - 1972; direction of underwater photography, stunt work and minor acting roles.
- Taylor's Inner Space (13-episode series), 1972-1973 with soundtrack composed by Sven Libaek and narration by William Shatner.
- Those Amazing Animals, 1980-1981; contributed to underwater segments.
- Fortress, 1985; underwater sequences.
- Blue Wilderness, (6-episodes) 1992; with Richard Dennison for National Geographic and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
- Flipper, 1995 series; underwater still photography.
- Age of Consent, 1968.
- The Intruders (also known as Skippy and the Intruders), 1969.
- Blue Water, White Death, 1971.
- Jaws, 1975.
- Orca, 1976; live shark sequences.
- The Last Wave, 1977; underwater sequences.
- Jaws 2, 1978
- Gallipoli, 1981; underwater sequences.
- A Dangerous Summer , 1982: underwater sequences.
- Year of Living Dangerously, 1982.[clarification needed]
- The Blue Lagoon, 1980; underwater sequences
- The Silent One, 1983.
- Sky Pirates, 1984, underwater sequences;
- Frog Dreaming, 1986;
- The Rescue, for Walt Disney, 1987.
- Return to the Blue Lagoon, 1990, underwater sequences.
- Honeymoon in Vegas, 1991, underwater sequences.
- Police Story 4: First Strike, 1995; underwater sequences.
- The Island of Dr Moreau, 1995, live shark sequences.
- Taylor, Ron; (1965), Ron Taylor's shark fighters: underwater in colour, John Harding Underwater Promotions, Glebe, NSW.
- Taylor, Ron & Valerie; (1976), Ron and Valerie Taylor's Underwater World, Ure Smith, Sydney (ISBN 072540342X).
- Taylor, Ron & Valerie; (1977), Sangosho no taiwa, (publisher not cited), Tokyo. (Japanese translation of Ron and Valerie Taylor's Underwater World as published by Ure Smith in 1976)
- Taylor, Ron & Valerie; Goadby, Peter; editors (1978), Great shark stories, Collins, London, England (ISBN 0002162725)
- Taylor, Valerie; (1981), The great shark suit experiment, Ron Taylor Film Productions, (ISBN 0959366903)
- Taylor, Ron & Valerie; Croll, Ian; editor, (1982), The Great Barrier Reef: nature's gift to Australia-Australia's gift to the world, Beer Productions, Cairns
- Taylor, Ron & Valerie; Goadby, Peter; editors (1986), Great shark stories, Crowood Press, Marlborough, England (ISBN 0946284733)
- Taylor, R. & Taylor, V.; (1986), Sharks: Silent Hunters of the Deep, Readers Digest (Australia) Pty Ltd, Surrey Hills, NSW, Australia (ISBN 0864380143) (hardback).
- Taylor, Ron & Valerie; (1987), Papua New Guinea marine fishes, Robert Brown & Associates, Bathurst, NSW, (ISBN 9780949267771) (pbk.), (ISBN 0949267775) (pbk.)
- Taylor, Ron & Valerie; (1997), Blue Wilderness, Fourth Day Publishing (ISBN 0964273691), (ISBN 978-0964273696)
Awards, honours and other recognitions
- 1962 - Encyclopædia Britannica Award for Playing With Sharks.
- 1966 - the NOGI statuette for Education and Sports (then awarded by the Underwater Society of America)
- 1993 - SSI Platinum Pro 5000 Diver 
- 2003 - Member of the Order of Australia (AM).
Citation: For service to conservation and the environment through marine cinematography and photography, by raising awareness of endangered and potentially extinct marine species, and by contributing to the declaration of species and habitat protection.
- 1981 - NOGI award for Arts, Academy of Underwater Arts & Sciences.
- 1986 - Rider of the Order of the Golden Ark presented by his Royal Highness, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands.[clarification needed]
- 1993 - SSI Platinum Pro 5000 Diver
- 1997: American Nature Photographer of the year award (sponsored by the American Press Club) for a picture of a whale shark swimming with her nephew in Ningaloo Marine Park.[clarification needed]
- 2000 - membership of the American Women Divers Hall of Fame.
- 2001 - the Centenary Medal and the Australian Senior Achiever of the year[clarification needed]
- 2010 - Member of the Order of Australia (AM).
Citation: For service to conservation and the environment as an advocate for the protection and preservation of marine wildlife and habitats, particularly the Great Barrier Reef and Ningaloo Reef, and as an underwater cinematographer and photographer.
Ron and Valerie Taylor
- 1992 - Australian Geographic Adventurer of the Year.
- 1997 - the jury award for the film Shark Pod at the Antibes Underwater Festival, France.
- 1998 - the Golden Palm Award for the book Blue Wilderness at the 25th World Festival of Underwater Pictures in Antibes, France.[clarification needed]
- 2000 - International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame.
- 2002 - Wildlife Preservation Society of Australia's Serventy Conservation Medal.
- 2008 - Australian Geographic Lifetime of Conservation Award.
- 2011 - Australian Cinematographers Society Hall of Fame.
- Life membership of the St George Spearfishing & Freediving Club Inc. (date of conferral not stated)
- 2012 - renaming of the newly declared Neptune Islands Group Marine Park surrounding the Neptune Islands in South Australia to the Neptune Islands Group (Ron and Valerie Taylor) Marine Park.
- "Ron and Valerie Taylor". Talking Heads. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 4 July 2005. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
- "Pioneer shark expert Ron Taylor dies". ABC News. 9 September 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
- Kennett, Joan; ‘Underwater Romance’, The Australian Women's Weekly, Wednesday 5 February 1964, pages 2 and 3, , retrieved 24/09/2012.
- "RON TAYLOR WINS WORLD SPEAR FISHING CHAMPIONSHIP". Fathom Magazine. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
- "AUF Spearfishing Championship Trophies". Australian Underwater Federation. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
- (Italian) Vincenzoni, Luciano Pane e cinema: il racconto di una vita straordinaria consacrata al mondo del cinema, Gremese Editore, 2005, ISBN 88-8440-391-X
- ‘Shark Hunters!’ The Australian Women's Weekly, Wednesday 6 March 1963, page 22, , retrieved 24/09/2012.
- Docuwiki Shadow of the Shark film profile
- "Obituaries: The man who loved sharks". The Courier-Mail (Brisbane). 11 September 2012. p. 51.
- Shark expert Valerie Taylor visits SA to campaign against changes to marine parks laws, The Advertiser, 28 August 2014. Accessed 29 August 2014.
- Conservationist Valerie Taylor urges MPs to block SA marine park changes, ABC News, 28 August 2014. Accessed 29 August 2014.
- "Playing with Sharks": Movietone Men Win World Film Award, , retrieved 1/10/2012.
- , retrieved 1/10/2012.
- "Member (AM) in the General Division of The Order of Australia - Mrs Valerie May Taylor, Fairlight NSW 2094" (PDF). p. 125. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 2013-01-31.
- ’Ron Taylor’s Shark Fighters Programme’, , retrieved 1/10/2012.
- ’ Will the Great Barrier Reef Cure Claude Clough?‘ , retrieved 30/09/2012.
- ’ The Cave Divers [motion picture] / narrated by Phil Haldeman and Valerie Taylor’, , retrieved 2/10/2012
- Taylor, Valerie, 'An adventure filmed for television, Exploring the amazing wreck of the Yongala', The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), Wednesday 24 November 1982, page 36, 37 and 38, , retrieved 26/09/2012.
- ’Great Barrier Reef’, , retrieved 30/09/2012.
- 'Give sharks a chance / produced & directed by Richard Dennison ; an Orana Films production for John Gau Productions & National Geographic. [videorecording]' 1991, , retrieved 1/10/2012.
- ’Shark Shocker’, , retrieved 1/10/2012.
- 'Taylor, Valerie, 1998, 'Testing the Shark POD', , retrieved 1/10/2012.
- ’ Shadow of the Shark’, , retrieved 1/10/2012.
- ’Skippy’, , retrieved 30/09/2012.
- ’ "Skippy" The Golden Reef (1968)’, , retrieved 1/10/2012.
- ’Contrabandits’, , retrieved 30/09/2012.
- ’Barrier Reef’, , retrieved 30/09/2012.
- 'Ron & Val Taylor’s Inner Space', , retrieved 30/09/2012.
- The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946-Present. Ballantine Books. 2003. p. 1197. ISBN 0-345-45542-8.
- ’Fortress’, , retrieved 1/10/2012.
- ’Blue Wilderness’, , retrieved 1/10/2012.
- 'Flipper: Season 1, Episode 10: That's a Moray! ', , retrieved 30/09/2012.
- ’ Age of Consent’, , retrieved 30/09/2012.
- Lucas, Alan; 2010, 'Age of Consent', , retrieved 1/10/2012.
- ’The Intruders’, , retrieved 30/09/2012.
- Blue Water, White Death at the Internet Movie Database
- ’Jaws’,, retrieved 30/09/2012.
- ’Orca’, , retrieved 30/09/2012.
- 'The Last Wave', , retrieved 30/09/2012.
- ’Jaws 2’, , retrieved 30/09/2012.
- ’Gallipoli’, , retrieved 30/09/2012.
- ’A Dangerous Summer’, , retrieved 30/09/2012.
- ’The Blue Lagoon’, , retrieved 30/09/2012.
- Taylor, Valerie; Valerie and Ron Taylor join the action in 'THE BLUE LAGOON', The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), Wednesday 19 November 1980, pages 64 and 65, , retrieved 26/09/2012.
- ’The Silent One’, , retrieved 1/10/2012.
- ’ Sky Pirates’, , retrieved 30/09/2012.
- ’Frog Dreaming’, , retrieved 1/10/2012.
- 'Return to the Blue Lagoon', , retrieved 30/09/2012.
- ’ Honeymoon in Vegas’, , retrieved 1/10/2012
- ’ Ging chaat goo si 4: Ji gaan daan yam mo’, , retrieved 1/10/2012.
- "NOGI - Diving's Most Prestigious Award". Academy of Underwater Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
- "Platinum Pro 5000 Diver Profile: Ron Taylor". Scuba Schools International. Retrieved 5 November 2012.
- Ron Taylor entry at It's An Honour, retrieved 29 June 2012.
- 'Valerie Taylor - Arts - 1980', http://www.auas-nogi.org/bio_taylor_valerie.html, retrieved 10/09/2012.
- "Platinum Pro 5000 Diver Profile: Valerie Taylor". Scuba Schools International. Retrieved 5 November 2012.
- ’Member Roster P - T’, , retrieved 30/09/2012.
- Valerie Taylor entry at It's An Honour, retrieved 26 June 2012.
- ’AG Society Adventure Awards’, ‘http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/society/adventure-awards-ag-society.htm, retrieved 30/09/2012
- ’ Ron & Valerie Taylor’, http://www.scubahalloffame.com/hallmembers/2000/ronvalerietaylor.html, retrieved 30/09/2012
- 'WPSA Serventy Conservation Medal',, retrieved 25/09/2012.
- '2008 AG Society awards wrap', , retrieved 25/09/2012.
- ’Ron Taylor AM ACS & Valerie Taylor AM’, http://www.cinematographer.org.au/cms/page.asp?ID=20179 , retrieved 30/09/2012.
- "About us". St George Spearfishing and Freediving Club. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
- "South Australian Marine Parks take effect today" (PDF). South Australian Government. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
- "Neptune Islands Group (Ron and Valerie Taylor) Marine Park". SA Department of Environment, Water & Natural Resources. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
- Gilliam, Bret (2007). Diving pioneers and innovators : a series of in-depth interviews. Jacksonville, Florida: New World Publications. ISBN 1-878348-42-6. (includes interview with Ron & Valerie Taylor)
- Ron and Valerie Taylor's Facebook page
- Fathom magazine 1970
- Ocean Artists Society page for Valerie Taylor
- Ron Taylor obituary Sydney Morning Herald