SHARK RESEARCHERS (Australia 1960s)



Home-made scuba gear, late 1950s.  Ron Taylor (right) was to become a legend of marine cinematography.  A technical-minded expert who made his own underwater camera housings using perspex material.  He was the principal cinematographer on “Blue Water White Death” (the production doubled his salary after the first week at sea.  Remembered for his live shark cinematography in the first Jaws movie which is soon to be included in the forthcoming Valerie Taylor book of her life story under the sea.


Shark picture from about 1960 when it appeared as a cover on the Australian Spear Fishing Digest magazine. About the time I joined Sydney Sea Hunters club. This Ron Taylor picture was captured during a USFA Alliman Shield monthly meeting, the location here was Wattamolla in the Royal National Park, Sydney.

Top left is Dave Rowlings (or Dave Rowling), bottom left, Ted Louis.  Both men were the considered experts especially with scuba spear fishing. Ted and wife Ivy both wrote contributed news columns in ‘the magazine’.Ted Louis sold compressed air from his garage in Hurstville, Sydney.

Son-in-law John Sumner, shown below.

John Sumner was filmed by Ron Taylor at Montague Island for this early Grey Nurse shark episode., speared with a C02 gun.

Please remember marine biology was almost an unknown subject  at universities in 1961.  Shark ID’s were virtually impossible even by expert fishermen.   Consequently any shark that looked dangerous was wrongly identified by the sinister name The Grey Nurse.

About two years later “Sharks and Other Predatory Fish” guide book by Peter Goadby  was published making shark identification simple for the six main species.  Blue Pointer (Mako), White Pointer (White shark), Tiger, Hammerhead, Whaler (Bull), Grey Nurse, etc.





Frame from 16mm film (John Harding)
Frame from 16mm film

This picture possibly helped Waverley Council erect a shark proof swimming enclose at Camp Cove beach, located just inside the entrance to Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour). Across the harbour at Balmoral the council removed their aging stainless steel net – not such a wise idea.

Sydney Harbour has been found by researchers tagging sharks in 2010 to be plentiful with large bull sharks who migrate north to Grafton’s Clarence River, then return.  An Australian Royal Navy diver was seriously injured by a bull shark in Sydney Harbour.

Published April 2nd 1969