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Australian Story: Valerie Taylor Part 2 (ABC TV



Australian Story on ABC

Valerie Taylor’s extraordinary life is chronicled further in part 2 of Australian Story – Diving in Deep. Valerie Taylor is a well-known underwater videographer and shark conservationist who popularised the underwater world in Australia.

Steven Spielberg hired Val and her late cinematographer husband Ron Taylor to film great white sharks for his movie Jaws because of the couple’s well-known reputation for filming with deadly sharks.

The Taylors captured behind-the-scenes footage when a stuntman who had never dived hesitated to enter the shark cage.

‘’The first shark that came up to the boat he looked at it and he said, “I want to speak to my manager now”, recalls Valerie Taylor.

A great white shark ripped into the cage moments later, providing an unanticipated final scene for the film, and the stuntman barely escaped with his life because of his hesitation.

The box office success of Jaws, however, was terrible news for sharks and could have undermined Valerie’s advocacy for their acceptance.

After the film, “gung-ho men took it upon themselves to kill sharks”, recalls Valerie, who was shocked by the reaction.

She resumed her conservation efforts and increased her fight to conserve the grey nurse shark even after her first serious bite, which was captured on film.

“It was being killed all along the east coast of Australia … I realised if they weren’t protected, they would disappear.”

Through the years, her efforts to safeguard marine mammals have benefited sea lions, gigantic cod, and grey nurse sharks.

Valerie, at 87 years old, is still fighting for marine life.

“I feel that the general public are starting to realise that the ocean is an important part of the well-being of the planet and therefore of themselves. But there’s a lot to be done.”

“I think young people are inspired by Valerie Taylor, so it’s driving this new wave of interest”, says Australian Museum director, Kim McKay.

Producer:  Jennifer Feller.

Airdate: Monday 20 March 2023 at 8.00pm on ABC TV and ABC iview.