16 May

Jaws was on again the other night.  And I suddenly realised who Ron & Valerie Taylor are (who are among the stars of Buoys & Gals).  Apologies for this, but I was born a pom, and I’m blonde.  Anyway, they (Ron & Valerie) are not just a couple of octogenarians smiling sagaciously, shaking their schnoodles and declaring the summer of 2009 sharkfest a scaremongering shemozzle but, as ever one finds in ocean swimming, yet another pair of salty superheroes.

Just a couple of things:

  • Both champion spearfishers (in Australia and internationally – Ron, world champion in ‘65) –they chose to switch their focus to conservation sometime in the ‘60s
  • They have gongs – Order of Australia (Ron) and Centenary Medal (Valerie) and many more accolades both official: Wildlife Preservation Society of Australia, American Women Divers and International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame, Order of the Golden Ark, Underwater Society of America awards and unofficial: saviours of the Cormorant Pass potato cod and Ningaloo
  • Their services have been recruited for many films and their underwater photography is also feted (including supplying some images to Jacques Cousteau for one of his books)
  • Ron first came up with the idea for a chain mail suit.  When the prototype was too small for him, Valerie tested it.  Valerie has been bitten 3 times, not necessarily while wearing the suit!
  • Described as PR agents for sharks they are sorely needed but it is perhaps ironic that they provided the live screen footage for Jaws.  For the record and in their (and sharks’) defence:
    • The mechanical shark that features in Jaws (called Bruce, incidentally, as in Finding Nemo not as in Bruce Paterson) is 26 foot.  According to Ron, the average Australian great white is 13 foot.  Mechanical Bruce was also gifted with disproportionately large teeth.  In order to be sympathetic to the fictional menace, the actor, whilst not officially a dwarf, was a very, very small man and the cage, a miniature one.  The footage came about when a shark genuinely got tangled up in the cage and was simply trying to escape.  So.  Who’s afraid of Noahs now?  Remember, sharks get cancer too.

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