Shark expert Ron Taylor dies

2012-09-10 17:02

Sydney - An Australian shark expert who pioneered the underwater filming of marine animals and worked on the blockbuster film Jaws has died in Sydney.

Ron Taylor, who had myeloid leukaemia, died on Sunday aged 78, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation said.

With his wife Valerie, Ron Taylor was a pioneer of underwater cinematography, capturing images of a great white shark without the protection of a diving cage.

His skills meant he was sought out by Hollywood director Steven Spielberg when he was making Jaws, with the Taylors helping with the live shark sequences.

Taylor was a champion spear fisher before he decided not to kill marine animals any more, opting to "hunt with a camera" instead.

"I just thought, 'What am I doing down here killing these poor, defenceless marine creatures?' he said in 2005.

"So I just packed up, went home - didn't even weigh my fish in - and never went back to another spear fishing competition."

Ron Taylor said Jaws meant "people went out with a vendetta to kill sharks" because of the fear of the creatures the movie inspired, despite the fact it was fictional.

"Valerie and I got a lot of flack because we were involved in a film which stopped a lot of people learning to dive," he said.

Taylor, reportedly bitten by sharks on several occasions, was awarded the Order of Australia for his service to conservation and the environment through marine cinematography and photography in 2003.

The Australian Anti Shark Finning Alliance said on its website: "A very sad day with the passing of the great Ron Taylor."