Ron and Valerie Taylor

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Ron Taylor
Ronald Josiah Taylor

8 March 1934
Died9 September 2012(2012-09-09) (aged 78)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
OccupationProfessional diver,
underwater still photographer and cinematographer
Known forExpertise with sharks, conservation advocacy, underwater sports champion
Valerie Taylor
Valerie Taylor.JPG
Valerie May Heighes

(1935-11-09) 9 November 1935 (age 83)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
OccupationProfessional diver,
underwater still photographer and cinematographer
Known forExpertise with sharks, conservation advocacy, underwater sports champion

Ron Josiah Taylor, AM (8 March 1934 – 9 September 2012)[1][2] was a prominent Australian shark expert, as is his widow, Valerie May Taylor née Heighes, AM (born 9 November 1935).[1][3] Their expertise has been called upon for films such as Jaws, Orca and Sky Pirates.


Ron began diving in 1952, became 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.[4][5][6] 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.[4] 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.[3] They made their living in the 1960s by making wet suits and selling underwater cameras, plus doing artwork for magazines. They 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.[7] They were also the first to film sharks by night.[8]


  • 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.[4][9]
  • 1963: Shark Hunters was sold to American television. Shown on TCN9 in Sydney and repeated the following week due to popular demand.
  • 1964: Slaughter at Saumarez first Australian diving adventure to The Coral Sea aboard professional fishing boat Riversong with free divers John Harding, Bob Grounds and Ron Zangari with Captain Wally Muller.
  • 1965: Ron won the World Spearfishing Championship in Tahiti, after winning the Australian championship for four years in succession.[4]
  • 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 Head 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.
    • The Taylors 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.[4]
    • The Taylors were employed by the Belgian Scientific Expedition to the Great Barrier Reef as advisers and 35 mm underwater cinematographers, for six months, the first major educational project of this type on the Great Barrier Reef sponsored by University of Liège, Belgium.
  • 1969: Ron co-filmed Blue Water, White Death with Stan Waterman, Peter Lake and Peter Gimbel.[10] It was released internationally by Cinema Centre Films, and later MGM on DVD.[4]
  • 1974: The Taylors, assisted by Rodney Fox (above water), filmed the live shark underwater sequences for Jaws.[4]
  • 1979: The suit of chain mail was made which Valerie tested with sharks, when it was found the suit was too small for Ron.[4]
  • 1979: The Taylors filmed the underwater scenes with the principal actors and Kathy Troutt 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.
  • 1982:
    • Wreck of the Yongala, a TV documentary, was made, showcasing what was then the most spectacular of shipwrecks in shallow water. It was instrumental in having the wreck protected from fishing.[4]
    • 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.
  • 1986:
    • Valerie was invited to Sweden to finalize 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 Taylors 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. It 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,[11] 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. It was directed by Tina Dalton-Hagege.
  • 2008: Ron supports the Great Australian Shark Count (Australian Underwater Federation)
  • 2012: Ron dies on 9 September 2012 at age 78, following a two-year battle with acute myeloid leukemia.[12]
  • 2014: Valerie campaigns against an Opposition Bill to remove sanctuary zones from marine parks in South Australia.[13][14]



Documentary films[edit]

Television series and movies[edit]

  • Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, Episode 3Golden Reef (1968) – original story & Episode 57The Shark Taggers(1969) – underwater sequences[27][28]
  • Contrabandits (30 episode series), 1967–68; underwater sequences and diving instruction for cast[29]
  • Barrier Reef (39-episode series), 1971–1972; direction of underwater photography, stunt work and minor acting roles[30]
  • Taylor's Inner Space (13-episode series), 1972–1973 with soundtrack composed by Sven Libaek and narration by William Shatner[31]
  • Those Amazing Animals, 1980–1981; contributed to underwater segments[32]
  • Fortress, 1985; underwater sequences[33]
  • Blue Wilderness (6 episodes), 1992; with Richard Dennison for National Geographic and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation[34]
  • Flipper, 1995 series; underwater still photography[35]



  • 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, Reader's 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[edit]


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.


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[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Ron and Valerie Taylor". Talking Heads. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 4 July 2005. Archived from the original on 31 December 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  2. ^ "Pioneer shark expert Ron Taylor dies". ABC News. 9 September 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  3. ^ a b Kennett, Joan; 'Underwater Romance', The Australian Women's Weekly, Wednesday 5 February 1964, pages 2 and 3, [1], retrieved 24/09/2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k
  5. ^ "RON TAYLOR WINS WORLD SPEAR FISHING CHAMPIONSHIP". Fathom Magazine. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  6. ^ "AUF Spearfishing Championship Trophies". Australian Underwater Federation. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  7. ^ (in 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
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b 'Shark Hunters!' The Australian Women's Weekly, Wednesday 6 March 1963, page 22, [2], retrieved 24/09/2012.
  10. ^ ""Blue water, white death" documentary film in TV guide (1976)". Waukesha Daily Freeman. 1976-11-27. p. 22. Retrieved 2017-07-22.
  11. ^ Docuwiki Shadow of the Shark film profile
  12. ^ "Obituaries: The man who loved sharks". The Courier-Mail (Brisbane). 11 September 2012. p. 51.
  13. ^ Shark expert Valerie Taylor visits SA to campaign against changes to marine parks laws, The Advertiser, 28 August 2014. Accessed 29 August 2014.
  14. ^ Conservationist Valerie Taylor urges MPs to block SA marine park changes, ABC News, 28 August 2014. Accessed 29 August 2014.
  15. ^ "Playing with Sharks": Movietone Men Win World Film Award, [3], retrieved 1/10/2012.
  16. ^ [4], retrieved 1/10/2012.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "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.
  18. ^ 'Ron Taylor's Shark Fighters Programme', [5], retrieved 1/10/2012.
  19. ^ 'Will the Great Barrier Reef Cure Claude Clough?' [6], retrieved 30/09/2012.
  20. ^ 'The Cave Divers [motion picture] / narrated by Phil Haldeman and Valerie Taylor, [7], retrieved 2/10/2012
  21. ^ Taylor, Valerie, 'An adventure filmed for television, Exploring the amazing wreck of the Yongala', The Australian Women's Weekly, Wednesday 24 November 1982, page 36, 37 and 38, [8], retrieved 26/09/2012.
  22. ^ 'Great Barrier Reef', [9], retrieved 30/09/2012.
  23. ^ 'Give sharks a chance / produced & directed by Richard Dennison ; an Orana Films production for John Gau Productions & National Geographic. [videorecording]' 1991, [10], retrieved 1/10/2012.
  24. ^ 'Shark Shocker', [11], retrieved 1/10/2012.
  25. ^ a b 'Taylor, Valerie, 1998, 'Testing the Shark POD', [12], retrieved 1/10/2012.
  26. ^ ' Shadow of the Shark', [13], retrieved 1/10/2012.
  27. ^ a b 'Skippy', [14], retrieved 30/09/2012.
  28. ^ ' "Skippy" The Golden Reef (1968)', [15], retrieved 1/10/2012.
  29. ^ 'Contrabandits', [16], retrieved 30/09/2012.
  30. ^ 'Barrier Reef', [17], retrieved 30/09/2012.
  31. ^ 'Ron & Val Taylor's Inner Space', [18], retrieved 30/09/2012.
  32. ^ The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946-Present. Ballantine Books. 2003. p. 1197. ISBN 0-345-45542-8.
  33. ^ 'Fortress', [19], retrieved 1/10/2012.
  34. ^ 'Blue Wilderness', [20], retrieved 1/10/2012.
  35. ^ 'Flipper: Season 1, Episode 10: That's a Moray! ', [21], retrieved 30/09/2012.
  36. ^ ' Age of Consent', [22], retrieved 30/09/2012.
  37. ^ Lucas, Alan; 2010, 'Age of Consent', [23], retrieved 1/10/2012.
  38. ^ 'The Intruders', [24], retrieved 30/09/2012.
  39. ^ Blue Water, White Death on IMDb
  40. ^ 'Jaws', [25], retrieved 30/09/2012.
  41. ^ 'Orca', [26], retrieved 30/09/2012.
  42. ^ 'The Last Wave', [27], retrieved 30/09/2012.
  43. ^ 'Jaws 2', [28], retrieved 30/09/2012.
  44. ^ 'Gallipoli', [29], retrieved 30/09/2012.
  45. ^ 'A Dangerous Summer', [30], retrieved 30/09/2012.
  46. ^ 'The Blue Lagoon', [31], retrieved 30/09/2012.
  47. ^ Taylor, Valerie; Valerie and Ron Taylor join the action in 'THE BLUE LAGOON', The Australian Women's Weekly, Wednesday 19 November 1980, pages 64 and 65, [32], retrieved 26/09/2012.
  48. ^ 'The Silent One', [33], retrieved 1/10/2012.
  49. ^ ' Sky Pirates', [34], retrieved 30/09/2012.
  50. ^ 'Frog Dreaming', [35], retrieved 1/10/2012.
  51. ^ 'Return to the Blue Lagoon', [36], retrieved 30/09/2012.
  52. ^ ' Honeymoon in Vegas', [37], retrieved 1/10/2012
  53. ^ ' Ging chaat goo si 4: Ji gaan daan yam mo', [38], retrieved 1/10/2012.
  54. ^ "NOGI – Diving's Most Prestigious Award". Academy of Underwater Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  55. ^ "Platinum Pro 5000 Diver Profile: Ron Taylor". Scuba Schools International. Retrieved 5 November 2012.
  56. ^ Ron Taylor entry at It's An Honour, retrieved 29 June 2012.
  57. ^ 'Valerie Taylor – Arts – 1980',, retrieved 10/09/2012.
  58. ^ Tom Byron (8 April 2014). History of Spearfishing and Scuba Diving in Australia: The First 80 Years 1917 to 1997. Xlibris Corporation. pp. 317–. ISBN 978-1-4931-3670-4.
  59. ^ "Platinum Pro 5000 Diver Profile: Valerie Taylor". Scuba Schools International. Retrieved 5 November 2012.
  60. ^ 'Member Roster P – T', [39] Archived 19 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 30/09/2012.
  61. ^ Valerie Taylor entry at It's An Honour, retrieved 26 June 2012.
  62. ^ 'AG Society Adventure Awards', ', retrieved 30/09/2012
  63. ^ ' Ron & Valerie Taylor',, retrieved 30/09/2012
  64. ^ 'WPSA Serventy Conservation Medal',[40], retrieved 25/09/2012.
  65. ^ '2008 AG Society awards wrap', [41], retrieved 25/09/2012.
  66. ^ 'Ron Taylor AM ACS & Valerie Taylor AM',, retrieved 30/09/2012.
  67. ^ "About us". St George Spearfishing and Freediving Club. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
  68. ^ "South Australian Marine Parks take effect today" (PDF). South Australian Government. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
  69. ^ "Neptune Islands Group (Ron and Valerie Taylor) Marine Park". SA Department of Environment, Water & Natural Resources. Retrieved 29 November 2012.

Further reading[edit]

  • 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 and Valerie Taylor)

External links[edit]