The West

Ron Taylor, the Australian marine conservation pioneer who helped film some of the heart-stopping, underwater footage in the movie Jaws, has died. He was 78.

Wildlife conservationists led the tributes for Taylor, who died at a private hospital in Sydney yesterday. He had battled myeloid leukaemia for two years.

"Today is a very sad day," the Australian Anti Shark Finning Alliance wrote on Twitter. "Ron Taylor, long-time Australian shark conservationist has passed away."

Broadcaster Derryn Hinch described Taylor as the "Oz Jacques Cousteau", adding: "He hunted the great white - with a camera."

Taylor is survived by wife Valerie, with whom he worked for more than 40 years conserving and filming sharks around the world.

Taylor was a former champion spear fisherman and avid diver, who turned to conserving and filming marine life after an underwater epiphany.

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

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

"At the same time I was doing my photography. I was trying to get close to the fish to capture beautiful images with a still camera and a movie camera."

It was his passion for and proficiency with underwater photography that led director Steven Spielberg to call on Taylor and his wife to film some of the underwater sequences for Jaws.

Although they received some criticism for helping demonise sharks through the terrifying video footage, the scenes in Jaws shot by Taylor became iconic.

He also shot numerous marine documentaries and in 2003 was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for services to conservation.

Through his work, Taylor became well known around the world, particularly among those with a passion for the environment.

To some he was simply known as "the shark man".


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