Special Guest Speaker

Valerie Taylor

Valerie Taylor is a pioneering figure in the realm of marine conservation and cinematography. Together with her late husband Ron, she played a pivotal role in the early days of marine conservation in Australia. Valerie's journey began in 1956 when she first ventured underwater. Her passion for the underwater world led her to excel in spearfishing and scuba diving, winning several Australian championships. However, in 1969, the couple decided to retire from the sport and instead capture the breathtaking beauty of the underwater realm through film. 

Valerie and Ron became renowned for their exceptional underwater cinematography skills, producing remarkable films that showcased the marine world's wonders. Their works, including the groundbreaking film Shark Hunters and the TV series Barrier Reef, gained international acclaim and utilized the Taylor Film Library. They worked on numerous feature film productions, collaborating on notable films such as Jaws, Orca, and The Blue Lagoon. Valerie's artistic eye and expertise in underwater photography also made her one of the world's top women photographers in the field. 
Beyond her cinematic achievements, Valerie has been a dedicated advocate for marine conservation. Her films have played an essential role in raising awareness about the need to protect marine ecosystems. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including the NOGI statuette for Arts from the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences and the American Nature Photographer of the Year award. Valerie's dedication to conservation has been recognized with honors such as being appointed Knight of the Order of the Golden Ark in the Netherlands and receiving the Australian Centenary Medal. 
Valerie's remarkable journey continues, as she remains actively involved in marine conservation and serves as the Patron of the Marine division of the National Parks Association of New South Wales, Australia. She is presently an ambassador for the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS). Her latest documentary, Playing with Sharks, has received widespread acclaim, winning the Jackson Wild Media Awards and being a finalist at the Sundance Film Festival and the Emmys. Additionally, her book, An Adventurous Life, is set to be adapted into a feature film. Valerie's lifelong commitment to capturing the wonders of the ocean and advocating for its preservation has solidified her legacy as an influential figure in marine conservation and cinematography.