Shark enthusiast who filmed for 'Jaws'
RON TAYLOR: RON TAYLOR, who has died aged 78, was a great observer and defender of sharks. He began his career earning a living as a spearfisher, and later filmed some of the most exciting sequences for Steven Spielberg’s 1975 film Jaws, but then spent the rest of his life educating people about the animals he regarded as “fascinating marine creatures”.
“There are over 360 different shark species in the world’s oceans,” he noted in an interview in 2007, “yet only a few of those are potentially dangerous.
“Each one has its own characteristics. Sharks have evolved to fulfil a different niche in the marine environment.”
Ron Taylor was born in Sydney, the son of a professional photographer, and his first interest was photography. He did not begin his career as a diver until 1952. In the late 1950s he met Valerie, another keen diver and a talented marine artist. They married in 1963.
Taylor was already filming underwater. In 1962 he made his first successful film, Shark Hunters, with scenes of grey nurse sharks being speared. Later he persuaded his wife that they were incredibly placid creatures. Increasingly aware of the damage hunting was doing, he turned to cameras, supplying dramatic footage for Australian television.
Having formed their own company, the Taylors’ first commercial film was a documentary, Blue Water, White Death (1971), with revealing scenes of oceanic whitetip sharks. These and other scenes drew the attention of Spielberg, whose producers sent Peter Benchley’s book, Jaws, to Taylor, asking him to supply suitable footage for the film.
Later ventures included the TV series Inner Space, Operation Shark Bite (1979), Orca (1977) and Return to the Blue Lagoon (1991), as well as episodes of the children’s series Skippy and Flipper. But the Taylors’ efforts towards conservation gathered pace in the 1980s. They lobbied the Australian government to protect the Coral Sea Islands off Queensland.
In 2003 Taylor was appointed a member of the Order of Australia.
Valerie survives him.
Ronald Josiah Taylor, born March 8th, 1934; died September 9th, 2012