Platinum Pro 5000 Diver Profile:
Ron Taylor

 
Name:
Ron Taylor

Number of Dives Upon Induction:
5000

Pro Since:
1993

Diving Since:
1952

Region:
Roseville, NSW, Australia

Story:
Ron's first award for photography came in 1962, from Encyclopedia Britannica, for a news film titled, Playing With Sharks. Ron Taylor's introductory underwater 16mm film, TheShark Hunters, was filmed with diving partner Ben Cropp and showed the first underwater scenes of grey nurse sharks and a seach for a shark repellant. It was an enormeous hit. Ron received the Underwater Society of America award, the NOGI statuette for Education and Sports, in 1966 In 1965 Ron won the World Spear fishing Championship held in Tahiti, the first and only Australian to do so, it came after winning the Australian championship for four years in succession at a time when competition was keenest. In 1967 (on the Belgian Expedition) Ron 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 actually made and tested. The result appeared as a National Georgraphic Magazine cover picture. In 1967 the Taylor's accompanied the Belgian Scientific Expedition to the Great Barrier Reef as advisors and underwater cinematographers, for a period of six months. They worked between Lady Musgrave Island and Lizard Island it was the first major scientific expedition filming underwater in Australia, and in 35mm. Ron had began filming on this expedition with his own Eclair 16/35 mm movie camera, in a housing he had recently constructed. In 1969 they co filmed the feature film, Blue Water, White Death - which was 'an extremely exciting adventure' swimming with hundreds of sharks in bottomless water in the Indian Ocean. Ron and Valerie appeared as themselves being two of the four main characters in this feature length documentary. They were responsible for bringing this film crew to South Australia to search and film the great white shark when efforts to find an extinct monster white shark failed in South African waters and the film was without an ending. They got such an ending in Australia - the film was a hit pre Jaws. In 1969 Valerie began underwater stills photography. Ron built the underwater housings for her cameras which were, at the time, far in advance of anything available in stores. With her art experience Valerie quickly become one of the worlds top female underwater photographers, a position she holds onto to this day. During 1970-71, they did the 2nd unit underwater filming and directing for the 39 episode Australian TV series Barrier Reef for the same company with Lee Robinson that had success with "Skippy - The Bush Kangaroo". In 1972-73 they produced Taylor's Inner Space, a series of 13 TV films, showing their encounters with the marine life of Australia and The Coral Sea. These films were sold throughout the world with considerable success. Meanwhile Valerie's stills had featured in other leading international book publications, Readers Digest, Stern, Life and in Australia, The Bulletin. Valerie was contracted to shoot stills in the Virgin Islands for Time-Life's American Wilderness series of books, and had a major cover and feature in National Geographic with a Great Barrier Reef story obtained after a year of constant work. During 1974 with Rodney Fox they successfully did the live shark action sequences for the first Jaws movie. In 1981 while on a dive trip the Taylor's discovered mining claims on several Coral Sea Islands. They brought this to the attention of the Federal Government and saved these remote bird breeding islands from what would have been disasterous for hundreds of thousands of birds and turtles. Valerie was honored in 1981 by the Underwater Society of America where she received the NOGI award for Arts, and joined Ron as the only husband and wife team to be awarded a NOGI. 1982 saw the release of 'Wreck of the Yongala', a 47 minute TV film, showcasing what was then the most spectacular of all shipwrecks in shallow water (less than 33 meters deep). The film was instrumental in having the Yongala (and its marine life) made a protected area from fishing. Also in 1982 the Taylor's(and others) lobbied directly and by the media both the Queensland Government and National Parks to make the Potato Cod of Cormorant Pass near Lizard Island known today as The Cod Hole protected. Four months of 1982 was spent in the Persian-Arabian Gulf, where the Taylors filmed the underwater scenes for six educational films featuring marine life that existed before it was later largely destroyed in the war. On the 4th October 1986, Valerie was in Holland where she was appointed Rider of the Order of the Golden Ark, by his Royal Highness, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. This award was for work in marine conservation. Later in Sweden she finalized the picture selection for a coffee table book, The Realm of the Shark, a biographical account of their professional lives between the 1950's, until the 1990's. The Taylors supplied some of their pictures to illustrate the Cousteau book coffee table book Great White Shark. In January 1992, they returned to South Africa for filming on the National Geographic Blue Wilderness series. This time they tested an electronic shark repelling barrier, and also inadvertantly became the first people to film white pointer sharks underwater without a cage, a necessity when the arranged cage was lost in a storm. Shadow over the Reef, an adventure diving with giant whale wharks was filmed at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia in 1993. This film was instrumental in preventing the test drilling for oil inside the Ningaloo marine park. Valerie, is also an accomplished artist, a talent that set her off on her first career as a comic strip artist with The Silver Jacket. Their documentary film Shark Pod was completed in 1997, featuring thier successfully trials with the electronic device (invented in South Africa by the Natal Sharks Board) against white pointer, tiger, great hammerhead and other shark species. The Shark Pod film received The Jury Award at the Antibes Underwater Festival, France, a high honor and judged by their peers while their book Blue Wildness won the 1998 Gold Palm award at the same festival. In April 1997 Valerie won the prestigious American Nature Photographer of the year award for her stunning photograph of a whale shark swimming with mouth open alongside her nephew Jono Heighes at Ningaloo Marine Park. The award sponsored by The American Press Club. On the 15th of March 2000 Valerie was honoree in the American Women Divers Hall of Fame. The Taylor's latest series of three TV films In the Shadow of the Shark is the story of their diving lives. It has been sold to Channel Seven in Australia and to more than 100 countries. In October 2000, Ron and Valerie were one of the inaugural enshrines into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame, on the Cayman Islands. On Australia day 2002, Valerie was awarded the honor of Australian Senior Achiever of the year. Also in early 2002 Ron and Valerie received the Serventy Conservation Medal from the Australian Wildlife Preservation Society. In 2003 Ron became a Member in the Order of Australia. Valerie received the Australian Centenary Medal for her work in the field of conservation and was named the Australian Conservationist of the Year by Australian Geographic. Valerie Taylor is the Patron of the National Parks Association of NSW.

 
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