SHARK CONSERVATION (1969) – ‘Firstly, any small effort’


The Grey Nurse shark was first species to be given protection.  Big Seal Rock  NSW


Sharks saved by a rough cesarean operation. Sandra Greentree inspired her friends this day at North Stradbroke Island, Queensland.  John Harding was filming sharks for NHK (Japan) TV.
PIX magazine was first to publish this shark saving story.  Shark cesarean birth.

“Ron Taylor’s SAUMAREZ REEF” (1964; 2019)

Saumarez Reef is beyond the outside edge of the Great Barrier Reef, 240 miles offshore. Gannet Cay is located in The Swain Reefs, the southern section of The Great Barrier Reef.  The correct pronunciation for Saumarez is ‘saw-mer- rez’.  or possibly su-mah- ray.

Participants in the 1964 documentary  have  memorable professional diving careers.


Ron and Valerie Taylor. World class underwater photographers, adventurers, film cameramen, shark specialists now widely  remembered for their appearance in Blue Water White Death (1969), the filming of Jaws live sharks, and the book “Valerie Taylor an Adventurous Life”.  Both have The Order of Australia AM medal awards. Ron Taylor Reef located in The Swain Reefs has been named in Ron’s memory and honor.

John H. Harding helped promote diving in Australia via work with the Taylor’s 1964 to 1968. John began making his first 16mm film in 1968.  Simultaneously with a leading publisher began Fathom magazine.  Made Australian Seafari  (a 90 minute marine life documentary) as a traveling film show narrated live for many years before a sound-tracked version (inspired by his father John M. Harding, a cinema projectionist at Kings Theatre, Bega NSW pre 1953 and later a Sydney hotelier). Fathom magazine in color revealed to international  divers, film makers and travel agents how advanced Queensland had become. With a world class publication and a  new 79 foot live-aboard dive boat, Coralita the first with an on board air compressor. Now access to offshore crystal clear ocean water of The Coral Sea offering unparalleled shark filming activity was a must to experience.

Marine film shows promoted by John Harding and Ron and Valerie Taylor 1965 to late 1980s.


Wally Muller, Captain of the 36 foot fishing vessel Riversong hired by Gulf Oil (USA) to explore The Swain Reefs in 1965. The following year Wally Muller  purchased Careelah a twenty year-old 60 foot charter boat used during The Belgian Expedition of 1967. In 1969 Wally and a partner built the 79 foot Coralita at the Norman R. Wright shipyards in Brisbane, which became a world class live-aboard Commonwealth surveyed (to work anywhere in the world).  The Coral Sea became accessible for international dive trips for the first time.  With Coralita Wally and his young sons Roy and Alexander explored most of The Coral Sea Reefs and accepted risky charters in New Guinea rivers and elsewhere.   Mullers Reef in The Swain Reefs was named to honor this extraordinary pioneer skipper, fisherman and diver who explored most of The Coral Sea often collecting rare sea shells by diving for them at night.


Wally Muller in 1971 aboard his new charter boat Coralita.
Twin screw Coralita in 1974.

Bob Grounds held professional abalone diving licenses in three Australian states, worked as a diver on international oil rigs, started and successfully ran a company to repair  marine constructions and historic wharves underwater. Now builds restaurants and marinas in Australia.

Bob Grounds in 1968.


Ron Zangari lived a quiet life in Rockhampton, Queensland as a semi-professional diver after working on Riversong as an unpaid deckhand for many trips. Ran foul of the law by driving without a license more than a couple of times. Maintained a good sense of humor with naive mistakes.  A gentleman to the end.

Ron Zangari on cover of Ben Cropp's The Shark Hunters.
Ron Zangari with a Tiger shark became world famous through this picture by Ben Cropp, taken aboard Riversong in The Swain Reefs (1961)

Riversong  the legendary Wally Muller vessel exists today, owned-operated by an indigenous fishing community in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory.

Riversong built and designed along the lines of a lugger.

ATOLL ADVENTURE (1969) © John H. Harding

Our seaplane making a landing on water.

Australian marine publication (1971)

ATOLL ADVENTURE (in print) 1971


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After hitting a submerged bommie, pre take-off, our US Navy seaplane #274 had to be beached, and fast!**

A USAF C-130 flew repair equipment in from Guam later that day. It would take days for proper repairs to both sides of the hull. A new seaplane #250 from Agana, Guam arrived to collect our team, including much heavy equipment.

JATO (Jet Assist Take Off) rockets were needed to get our seaplane airborne. A memorable experience when you are standing near the tail, alongside the rockets as they ignite. Twin rockets burn for 12-15 seconds generating 1000 pounds of thrust each. That’s 4000 horsepower!

At the co-pilot’s command we-three moved our body weight toward the nose of the aircraft (to adjust trim) as the plane struggled to reach required take-off speed of 60 knots. Once ignited the rockets can’t be turned off. Later they were jettisoned over the sea.

Ahead were numerous submerged coral heads or ‘bommies’ and eventually, a rim of exposed solid reef – which we fortunately and narrowly missed. – Team mate Ken DaVicoatolls - 3 atolls 2 atolls-1 returned from the co-pilot’s seat (where he’d been stationed to spot markers we’d placed on bommies) ‘white as a ghost’. Ken said “the pilot was shaking much more than himself”.

Another reef contact would be far more serious now with twin rocket propulsion devices fixed to the rear doors. When ignited JATO’s can’t be extinguished. It would have been a spectacular finale.

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Hu-16-1024x800The original crown-of-thorns starfish plagues triggered Project Stelaroid in Micronesia (organised by the Westinghouse Ocean Research Laboratory of San Diego, California).

Sixty six scientists and underwater photographers were assembled at Guam (USA) into teams of four. Each team had one tonne of brand new equipment including an inflatable boat, 20 horsepower outboard, fuel, air compressor, scuba tanks, tents, food, film.

Plus international travel and accommodation to and from Guam, plus a fee for services! Not a bad deal.
National Geographic sent a photographer, the New York Times had a reporter there.

More than ten teams were assembled for an average three-week expedition scattered through the North Pacific.

An unexpected sudden budget cut-back axed the documentary film I was there to make, so I went along anyway and recorded these pictures, just low resolution copies from originals being shown here.

We ‘discovered’ two of the most remote islands left in the North Pacific. Close to the equator these were both traditional Polynesian cultures similar to sister establishments in more southern locations – all being the western extremities of ancient Polynesian open-canoe migration which began thousands of years ago.

A wonderful experience with more than a touch of danger associated with the military aircraft ‘training flights’ and water landing’s. A take-off with JATO was most memorable.

The adventure and associated pictures would justify the pages of a small ‘coffee table’ book one day. It remains my favourite adventure of all time.

JULY 4 2005. Team member Ken DaVico wrote:

I will never forget our adventure to Kapingamarangi and Nukuoro. Those were certainly some memories to be cherished. I watched a TV show, a game show called “Wheel of Fortune” and was surprised when the co-pilot of our airplane was a contestant. He mentioned our crash on the reef at Kapinga Atoll and said it was the most exciting thing in his life. Funny how we get re-connected. We were young back then. Hard to believe that I am 68 now but then, I can do things today I would not have thought of doing then.

I did go back to Kapingamarangi and Nukuoro the following year. Went down by sailboat from Ponape for a follow-up expedition sponsored by the Trust Territory. All our local friends were still there and many asked about you. I was told by the chief that you and I were welcome back anytime.

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