Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


September 10, 2012

Shark expert Ron Taylor dies; helped make 'Jaws'


"That's something that Dad and Ron talked about a lot along with (late Jaws author) Peter Benchley," Andrew Fox said. "All of them ... felt a sense of shame, in a way, that they made so many people terrified of sharks and going in the water."

But in later years, Fox said, they came to realize that "it's actually the movie 'Jaws' that spawned people wanting to learn about great whites."

"Most of the research and interest in that shark has come about since the movie," Fox said.

Taylor was "right up there with Steve Irwin and David Attenborough in Australia," said Fox, who helps run a shark diving expedition company in South Australia.

Taylor, a Sydney native, had a long love affair with the ocean but started out as a spearfisherman. In the 1950s, he had a change of heart in the midst of a spearfishing competition.

"I just thought, 'What am I doing down here killing these poor, defenseless marine creatures?'" he told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. in 2005. "So I just packed up, went home — didn't even weigh my fish in — and never went back to another spearfishing competition."

He and Valerie went on to shoot several documentaries, including "Shark Hunters" and the TV series "Inner Space," narrated by William Shatner. In "Operation Shark Bite," Valerie wears a chain mail suit the couple designed to ward off damage from shark attacks, escaping without injury despite sharks chewing on her arm. (The suit was too small for Ron.)

In 2003, Taylor was named a Member of the Order of Australia, one of Australia's highest civilian honors, for his conservation work. Valerie received the same honor in 2010.

Taylor is survived by his wife.

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