Noted underwater cinematographer, teacher and scuba diver Valerie de La Valdene was found dead at her home on Santa Cruz Island, Galápagos, Friday, July 4, the apparent victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the head.
A police source in Santa Cruz who did not want to be named told Galápagos Digital that investigators are calling the death a suicide because the weapon used in the shooting belonged to de la Valdene and was found near the left side of the body. De la Valdene was left-handed, the source added.
A native of Palm Beach, Florida, de la Valdene, 48, moved to Santa Cruz several years ago. She spent some of her time teaching at a local school and served as president of the Galápagos Childrens’ Fund, a non-profit formed to promote educational projects, libraries, summer camps and alternative schooling in the Galápagos Islands.
Friends in Santa Cruz, who did not want their names published, said they had fond memories of her and expressed sadness over her death.
De la Valdene contributed underwater cinematography for numerous nature specials that ran on international TV networks. Most famously, she told the story of surviving a shark attack in the waters off Galápagos in the 2004 Discovery Channel documentary “Primal Scream,” part of Discovery’s hugely popular “Shark Week.”
Her other credits include the series “Aaquanauts” that aired on the Animal Planet network and the program “Hammerheads–Nomads of the Sea.”
She has been interviewed about her exploits numerous times on U.S. television networks and in 2007 was inducted into the Women Divers’ Hall of Fame.
Among her survivors are her father, author Guy de la Valdene of Palm Beach and brother Johnny de la Valdene, a Dallas, Texas entrepreneur and film producer.