Way back when in 1952 the ocean sparked the interest of Mr Ron Josiah Taylor, and thank god it did, because this man would eventually give rise to a new type of ocean, and shark, conservation. After the Great White Shark attack on Rodney Fox in 1963, Ron – originally a champion spearfisho, worked together with Rodney to seek revenge and rid the world of Sharks.
However, this revenge was shortly lived. In the late 1960’s Ron, alongside his wife Valerie, hung up the spear and fastened his hands on an underwater camera to document and distribute the marine life that had captivated his mind. Ron was documented as saying "I just thought, 'What am I doing down here killing these poor, defenceless marine creatures?' So I just packed up, went home - didn't even weigh my fish in - and never went back to another spearfishing competition” From this point onwards, Ron carved his way through the ocean highlighting the animals and areas that required attention. Ron was the very definition of a ‘pioneer’, he and Valerie were the first people to capture Great White Sharks without the use of a cage, the first to film sharks at night, the first to film and draw conclusions about sharks resting motionless on the ocean floor, and they were the first to test the protective chainmail suit against shark bites.
Both Ron and Valerie copped a lot of flak for their part in Spielberg’s 'Jaws', "People went out with a vendetta to kill sharks because they believed that sharks were really like that," he said. "But in fact Jaws was just a fictional film."
- Valerie and Ron were responsible for the ban on taking fish and crayfish while on SCUBA.
- They were responsible for the Potato Cod becoming totally protected.
- Also responsible for the total protection of Sea Lions in Australia (they were being killed for shark bait by the sports fishermen and as pests by the professional fishermen)
- They stopped the Coral Sea bird breeding Islands being mined for Guano. They are now totally protected.
- Valerie's letters to NSW Fisheries and Ron’s footage were responsible for the protection of the Grey Nurse Shark.
- They also played a role in getting the Great White shark protected.
- The film 'Nursery of the Giants' helped to have the main breeding ground for the Southern Right Whale made a reserve.
Sadly, on Sunday, 9th of September Ron passed away after fighting myeloid leukaemia for two years. The legacy that Ron leaves behind is one that will go down in history. He is our Aussie Jacques Cousteau and the fan tributes are rolling in.
In a time when animals were nothing but entertainment and food, and it was “appropriate” to hate sharks, Ron saw them for what they were, and went against the grain to portray that to the public, and I believe that’s a strong testament to Ron’s character. And it’s an inspiration to me.
So here's to Ron. I bet he’s gliding around with his finned friends somewhere out in the Pacific Ocean.
Sarah Shark www.sarahshark.com