SHARK FIGHTERS programme (1965)

Revenge of a Shark Victim‘ by Ron Taylor  originally narrated by Hayes Gordon.  Film had scenes removed after the first screening when the audience heckled the dramatic tragedy aspects of the script.  Purchased and re-edited in 1966 by leading TV producer Robert Raymond (Senior) for his weekly PROJECT ’66 series. Won an Emmy Award –  highest award in Australian television.  Sound on the original version was recorded slightly slow giving Hayes Gordon’s voice a sleepy yet dramatic quality, OK when projected at 26 or 27 frames per second instead of standard 24 fps.  (Hayes Gordon was a stage director remembered for “The Seven Year Itch” at the Ensemble Theatre – Starring Valerie Heighes (later Valerie Taylor).

Surf Scene had two versions.  The original (and best) narrated by 2UW disc jockey WARD AUSTIN was in color. A second version for television was  in B&W – the commentary was an attempt to copy the accidental humor of the original voice and failed miserably assisted with its slightly British accent.  Original music was composed by John Charter a musician and band leader spotted by John Harding at several music venues.

Slaughter at Saumarez  (now titled Saumarez Reef) was narrated by TV newsreader Chuck Faulkner with a jazz soundtrack by bandleader Geoff Harvey.




Arriving at these remote reefs the charter boat was surrounded by Grey reef  sharks – at least a dozen on the surface. Normally it’s unusual for sharks to do this – except at places where few boats go.

In this case we’d ventured into the French Pacific Territories in a quest for rare sea shells (by half of the crew). The others, including ourselves were just interested in having a good time.

My trip was sponsored by Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph newspaper, and Fathom magazine.

Also aboard was my father, John Michael Harding who is standing next to Roy Bisson and watching the action below.

Two medical doctors are either side. At one stage they took a blood transfusion kit aboard the small dinghy with Ron and Valerie Taylor – just in case. This gives an indication on how territorial these small sharks were.

It’s more curiosity than aggression – in most but not all examples.

At another reef we experienced how territorial these whalers can be – almost enough to put you out of the water and go elsewhere.

My theory today is that sharks behave like this when divers are something new to them.

On the coast we are no longer a threatening novelty and sharks settle down to minding their own business. Eventually to become “trained” if food is regularly being offered.

These then are no longer wild sharks having become partially domesticated.

This is what dive tourism enjoys. Packaging cheap and relatively safe thrills to the the new breed of diving punters.

The rare, large traveling shark is a different proposition as we learned some years ago at Byron Bay. You can’t do much to avoid one of these monsters if it’s looking for a feed.

DISCLOSURE: The best corals and shark activity were not in the Chesterfield Reef area.  Avon Island was exceptional. Our visit coincided with very low tides at midday.  Shallow coral reefs were exposed to the sun.  Our original destination was Chesterfield Reef. A single dead specimen of rare volute shell had been picked up decades before and collectors aboard hoped to find live specimens.

The expedition was inspired by keen sea shell collectors who comprised half the guests aboard.  The rest of us went along to share what was an amazing adventure into the French area of The Coral Sea.   A Sydney tabloid newspaper The Daily Telegraph sponsored my participation and serialized the story over five double page issues.  Fathom magazine published a report written for divers in No.6 issue.