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Great White Shark jaws

Date: 1956-1995
Overall: 440 x 300 x 120 mm
Medium: Bone, teeth
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Ron and Valerie Taylor
Object Name: Shark jaws
Object No: 00051179

User Terms

    A set of jaws of a small great white shark (also called a white pointer shark) from the collection of Ron and Valerie Taylor.
    TheTaylors are household names in Australia for their dramatic and beautiful underwater photographic work on movies such as SHARK HUNTERS, JAWS, ORCA, BLUE WATER WHITE DEATH, AGE OF CONSENT and BLUE LAGOON, along with their television shows TAYLOR'S INNER SPACE and BARRIER REEF. They are also well known for their efforts to protect the marine environment and have received widespread recognition for their conservation efforts.

    SignificanceRon and Valerie Taylor started diving and spearfishing in the mid 1950s and are pioneers in the areas of underwater photography, shark research and marine conservation. These areas of expertise are illustrated by the material in the Ron and Valerie Taylor Collection which consists of early Australian diving equipment, underwater camera housings, many of which were made by Ron Taylor, still, film and video cameras and shark research equipment.
    HistoryThe Taylors were household names in the 1960s, 70s and 80s for their dramatic and beautiful underwater photographic work on movies such as SHARK HUNTERS, JAWS, ORCA, BLUE WATER WHITE DEATH, AGE OF CONSENT and BLUE LAGOON, as well as with their television shows TAYLOR'S INNER SPACE and BARRIER REEF. After terrifying thousands of divers and swimmers with their unbelievable camera work on sharks, the Taylors went on to become leading figures in what we now call the conservation movement, drawing world attention to the plight of the marine environment in general and the shark in particular, and eventually getting the Grey Nurse, Great White shark and Potato cod protected in Australian waters.

    Both Ron Taylor and Valerie Taylor (nee Heighes) were pioneers in Australian skin-diving with Ron taking up the sport in 1952 and Valerie in 1956. They met whilst members of the St George Spearfishing Club in Sydney and married in 1963.

    Back in the 1950s and early 1960s there was little awareness of marine conservation and both Ron and Valerie excelled at the sport of competitive spearfishing with Valerie winning the Ladies' National Spearfishing Championships three years in a row in the early 1960s and Ron taking out the World Spearfishing Championships in Tahiti in 1965.

    However, although the Taylors were gifted and talented skin-divers they had other underwater interests including scuba diving and underwater photography with Ron building the first of many underwater housings to take land cameras underwater in 1953. When television came to Australia in 1956 he saw the potential for making underwater news stories and with the help of a friend, who lent him a Bell and Howell 16-mm movie camera, Ron built an acrylic housing to take the camera and started selling underwater footage to TV and Movietone News.

    In 1962 Ron Taylor received his first award for underwater photography for the film called PLAYING WITH SHARKS. In 1963 Ron and Valerie made their first underwater film SHARK HUNTER which was sold to enthusiastic television networks in Australia and the USA.

    Just like in spearfishing, the Taylors quickly gained a reputation for cutting edge underwater photography and the awards followed including top honours at the International Underwater Film Festival at Santa Monica, California and Underwater Society of America award, the NOGI statuette for Education and Sports in 1966.

    Giving up competitive spearfishing in 1969 the Taylors devoted themselves full time to shark research and underwater photography filming many of the scenes in the American feature film BLUE WATER WHITE DEATH with Ron and Valerie played two of the four main characters in the film.

    Shortly afterwards the Taylors spent nine months filming and directing a 39-episode television series called BARRIER REEF which they quickly followed up with another series called TAYLOR'S INNER SPACE, which featured their encounters with the marine life of the east coast of Australia and the western Pacific. As their reputation grew other underwater filming opportunities presented themselves: JAWS (1974) for Universal Pictures, SHARKS (1975) for Timelife Television; ORCA (1976) for Dino De Laurentis, THE LAST WAVE (1977), THE BLUE LAGOON (1979) for Columbia Pictures and featuring Brooke Shields, GALLIPOLI (1981), THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY (1982), IN THE REALM OF THE SHARK (1988), RETURN TO THE BLUE LAGOON (1990) and THE ISLAND OF DR MOREAU (1995) amongst others.

    Along with their commercial underwater filming ventures the Taylors were also engaged in underwater research into shark behaviour with the Natal Shark Board in South Africa as well as researchers in Australia. This research led to the development of stainless steel chain mail diving suits, the use of which was graphically recorded in the documentary OPERATION SHARK BITE (1982) where Valerie was bitten on the hand; along with electronic shark deterrent equipment featured in the documentaries BLUE WILDERNESS (1992) when the Taylors became the first divers ever to film Great White sharks underwater without a cage and SHARK POD (1996).

    Passionate and vocal defenders of the shark and the marine environment, the Taylors' work has been recognised all over the globe. Valerie received the NOGI award for Arts in 1981. In 1986 she was appointed Ridder of the Order of the Golden Ark, by his Royal Highness, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands for her work in the field of marine conservation and in 1997 she won the prestigious American Nature Photographer of the year award for a picture of a Whale Shark swimming with a boy in Ningaloo Marine Park, WA. In 1998 Ron and Valerie's book BLUE WILDERNESS won the Gold Palm Award at the World Festival of Underwater Pictures in France and in October 2000 Ron and Valerie were inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame, on the Cayman Islands.

    In Australia, Ron and Valerie have received the Serventy Conservation Medal from the Australian Wildlife Preservation Society and the Lifetime of Conservation Medal from the Australian Geographic Society. In 2003 Ron became a Member of the Order of Australia, joined by Valerie, in 2010 for their work in conserving marine animals and habitat.

    Amongst the items donated to the Museum are the chain mail suits worn by Ron and Valerie during their filming of Operation Shark Bite, the Protective Oceanic Devices also known as Sharkpods which were invented in South Africa by Norman Starkey of the Natal Shark Board, a banded lycra suit used by Valerie during scientific research into shark deterrents based around shark's apparent dislike of seasnakes. Valerie's trade mark blue face rubber face mask which featured in many of her underwater adventures, hypodermic syringes used by the Taylors in the 1970s during research into the production of an effective shark repellant by Dr. Watson of the University of New South Wales, breakaway spearheads and shark tags, used by the Taylors during tagging operations on Great White Sharks in the 1980s, shark tagging equipment used during research into the migration habits of Port Jackson Sharks in the early 1960s, an early 1950s John Lawson scuba cylinder , the first acrylic 35mm underwater camera housing made by Ron in 1956, a rolliemarine camera and housing used by Hans Hass when he visited Australia in 1960s, the underwater camera housing used in the production of Jaws in 1974.

    The collection also includes an assortment of late 1950s through to mid 1980s diving equipment including a Royal Aqua master twin hose regulator, an Australian (Sydney) made single hose Barnes regulator and a Heinke Merlin twin hose regulator as well as a variety of camera housings and spearguns many of which were made by Ron in his workshop at home.

    Additional Titles

    Collection title: Ron and Valerie Taylor Collection of diving and photographic equipment.

    Assigned title: Great White Shark jaws

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