Valerie Taylor is an Australian diver, filmmaker, and conservationist who has fought for the protection of sharks. Her mission has always been to bring this mysterious yet largely misunderstood animal closer to people in order to debunk myths and stigmas.
Growing up near the sea, Valerie began studying and filming these animals from a young age. Known as the woman who swims with sharks, at 85 years old, Valerie continues to fight for shark protection, animals she has studied throughout her life alongside her husband Ron Taylor.
Her close encounters with sharks have made her a true expert. So much so that even Steven Spielberg sought advice from Valerie and Ron during the filming of one of cinema’s classics: “Jaws.”
Valerie has accomplished significant milestones in her efforts, such as:
- Promoting an end to international hunting.
- Advocating for the protection of the sand tiger shark, making it the first of these species to be listed for preservation.
A biography full of unexpected twists
At the age of 12, Valerie Taylor (Sydney, 1935) contracted polio, and the challenging rehabilitation forced her to leave school at 15. However, her family’s move to a coastal town, Port Hacking, brought her into contact with the sea. By the age of 25, she was the country’s deadliest spearfisher, second only to the world champion in the same specialty, Ron Taylor. She married him in 1963, and together they transformed her hunting passion: Ron became fascinated with cameras and started photographing Valerie interacting with marine life. The thrill of capture soon turned into curiosity and admiration, and they both stopped killing. They decided to dedicate their lives to researching, filming, and protecting marine life, with an obsession for sharks.
Valerie was a pioneer in underwater filmmaking and photography, capturing stunning images of marine life, including sharks, through her work on documentaries and films. Her innovative work brought sharks to the public eye, dispelling myths and highlighting the importance of these creatures in the balance of marine ecosystems.
The experiences and stories of Valerie Taylor have been documented in several books, films, and interviews, making her a respected and influential figure in the fields of marine biology and shark conservation.
We invite you to watch the documentary “Playing with sharks” by National Geographic.