The dive community grieves the loss of underwater cinematographer and icon Ron Taylor, who passed away 9 September 2012 after a two year battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife, Valerie, also noted for her many contributions to underwater conservation and diving.
Like most divers in 1952, Ron Taylor began his underwater career with an interest in spearfishing. He joined the St. George Spearfishing Club in Sydney, Australia and commenced competition underwater fishing, winning many club and state titles. By 1964, Ron was the only person to ever to win four consecutive Australian spearfishing titles, which he topped off by winning the World Individual Title in Tahiti in 1965.
In 1969, with a growing awareness of the beauty of the underwater world and the need to protect it, Ron retired from competitive underwater fishing and formed Ron Taylor Film Productions. The same year, he and Valerie joined Stan Waterman and Peter Gimbel for the production of the ground-breaking cinematic documentary Blue Water, White Death (released on DVD in 2007, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0146496/) The first major underwater natural history film to search for and document the great white shark, the picture features Ron, Valerie and their work.
During1970 to 1971, Ron and Valerie did the underwater filming and directing for a 39-episode television series called “Barrier Reef,” followed in 1972 and 1973 by their own television series, “Taylor’s Inner Space.,” which ultimately played internationally.
During 1974, the Taylors filmed the live shark sequences for the blockbusters Jaws, followed soon by shark productions including “Wild World of Animals” and the feature films Orca and The Blue Lagoon.
In January 1991, Ron and Valerie journeyed to Antarctica to produce the one hour-video, “In the Footsteps of Mawson.” Later that year, National Geographic sponsored a film about the Taylors’ life in the sea and their work with sharks. In 1992, Ron tested an electronic shark-repelling barrier device in South Africa, and became one of only a small number of divers who have ever swum with great white sharks outside a cage.
With his feature films regularly appearing on Discovery Channel, especially during “Shark Week,” Ron Taylor brought the underwater world and beauty of sharks in particular to people who, under normal circumstances, would never have had the opportunity of seeing or learning about the beauty of life beneath the ocean. In addition to this, during the 1990s, using their high credibility on television and multiple media channels, the Taylors were instrumental in preventing unnecessary dive restrictions and legislation in Australia.
“Losing Ron is a loss to diving and really, to everyone,” says Terry Cummins, PADI Worldwide International Vice President, “Those of us who knew and admired him, and who fell in love with diving through his images, will miss him greatly. Not only did Ron pioneer underwater cinematography and produce great documentaries, he was an advocate of marine conservation, an iconic Australian, and, well . . . a damn good bloke. Our hearts and prayers are with you, Valerie.”