With the 40th anniversary of the release of “Jaws”, “The Telegraph” has a very nice article on Valerie Taylor. She, together with her late husband Ron, was an underwater videographer for Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws”. The article’s headline calls her “The most glamorous shark hunter in the world”. Though I think “The most glamorous shark advocate in the world” is a much more fitting title, the article itself does a great job of telling Valerie’s life story. From her beginning as a champion spearfisher to one of the world’s leading advocates for conservation.
The article shows to how Valerie and Ron were being chastised for demonizing sharks “Within the marine conservation world, Ron and Valerie were vilified for their role in a movie that demonised sharks. “It caused the most incredible slaughter of innocent sharks that would never have hurt anybody, and they tried to blame Ron and me,” says Valerie. “To us, Jaws was a fictitious story about a fictitious shark. You don’t go to New York and expect to see King Kong hanging from the Empire State Building. But Jaws was so well done that people took it to heart.”
It talks about why they decided to become conservationists “It was at the Australian Spearfishing Championship in Queensland in 1969 that the pair had an epiphany. “We looked at all these beautiful tropical fish lying on the beach waiting to be weighed in, and I thought, ‘What have we done?’ Ron said to me, ‘This is terrible. We’re making a living filming beautiful marine animals and then for sport we’re killing them.’” They won the competition but never fished again, instead using their celebrity status to raise awareness. “I was young and beautiful and had long blonde hair, and I’d jump into the sea with any animal and do anything, so I was very successful in the field of conservation,” Valerie says, wryly.”
It shows that eventually they became known as conservationist. “By the 1980s, Ron and Valerie – along with fellow conservationists Benchley and his wife Wendy – had regained the high regard of the international conservation community. They successfully lobbied the Australian government to protect the Coral Sea Islands off Queensland, and their documentary films about the wreck of the Yongala, an iconic diving site, and the Great Barrier Reef, proved instrumental in promoting the conservation of reefs. Valerie, who still lives in Sydney, has continued her conservation efforts alone since Ron’s death, as well as continuing to dive with sharks”.
Valerie is still a very active diver, despite the fact that she’ll be 80 this November. My favorite part is how the article starts. “When I tentatively ask 79-year-old Valerie Taylor if she still scuba-dives, she erupts with incredulous horror. “Oh my God, yes! What else would I do?”
Just a few weeks ago Valerie was diving with bull sharks in Fiji. The picture below shows her diving with the late Rusi at the “Shark Reef Marine Reserve“, a dive that she describes as “The best shark dive in the world!”
|picture by Sam Cahir “predapix”
You can read Valerie’s life story here it gives you a great view of who Valerie Taylor is.
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CEO Shark Diver
About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.