FOREVER FAMOUS FOR being part of the pioneering husband-and-wife team that were the first people to film great white sharks underwater without a cage, and for capturing the live scenes from the infamous movie, Jaws, Valerie Taylor’s influence and impact extends far further than the realm of underwater filmmaking; she is one of the world’s most avid and successful marine conservationists.
VALERIE TAYOR’S LOVE affair with the ocean started with freediving and spearfishing in the waters of her native Australia. In 1963, Valerie, née Heighes, married Ron Taylor, forming an inimitable partnership that lasted for the next 52 years. They soon switched from spearfishing to hunting marine life with cameras. In 1973 Valerie was featured on the cover of National Geographic holding the camera setup that Ron had designed and built for her.
VALERIE WAS THE clear star of the groundbreaking movie Blue Water, White Death testing the very first chainmail shark suit to full effect, in a thrilling encounter with a blue shark. The film included the world’s first 35mm footage of a great white in its natural habitat, a project that led to their work with Stephen Spielberg on Jaws. THEIR UNDERWATER FILMMAKING escapades brought them face-to-face with the increasing challenges facing the oceans. They discovered mining claims on several Coral Sea islands, vital breeding grounds for seabirds, bringing it to the attention of the government, and were instrumental in saving these remote islands.
THEY WENT ON to campaign for the protection of a number of important marine ecosystems, including the now iconic Cod Hole, at which potato cod can still be found today, thanks to their tireless efforts.
IN 2000 VALERIE Taylor was inaugurated into the American Women Divers Hall of Fame, and she and Ron become inaugural members of the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame.
IN 2013 VALERIE was a invited by the Australian government when they declared a marine sanctuary in the Southern Ocean, naming it the “Ron and Valerie Taylor Marine Park”.
AT THE AGE of 81, she is still actively advocating for the oceans.