It’s hard to imagine, but there was once a time when we knew very little about life “under the sea”. The information we had about whales, sharks and other aquatic animals was as murky as the deep waters they swim in.
In the days pre-dating Jacques Costeau, “JAWS” and other forays into the underwater world there was Valerie Taylor, an Australian woman whose origins as a champion spearfisher in the 1950s served as the foundation of her career as an underwater filmmaker and shark researcher.
Valerie Taylor, seen here in archival footage, from a scene in National Geographic’s “Playing with Sharks.”
The new National Geographic documentary “Playing with Sharks,” created and produced by Bettina Dalton, and written and directed by two-time Emmy®-nominee Sally Aitken, tells Taylor’s story. Using both archival underwater footage and interviews with Taylor herself, the film starts with her earliest experiences as a competitive spearfisher in her native country. From there, the film traces Taylor’s evolution from a somewhat daring ocean explorer, interacting with sharks even before the development of protective shark cages, to a passionate advocate for what she feels are the ocean’s most maligned and misunderstood creatures.
Valerie Taylor in National Geographic’s “Playing with Sharks.”
The documentary is rated TV-14 V for some violent underwater shark scenes.
Playing with Sharks debuts exclusively on Disney+ this Friday, July 23. For a preview, check out the trailer below: