Sharks may be hard to love for many people, including the US president, but these animals are essential to the health of our oceans, says Lesley Evans Ogden

“I hope all the sharks die.” Those, reportedly, are the words of Donald Trump, now US president.

Fear of these animals is common, down to the way they are often portrayed in movies and on television. For example, Discovery Channel’s Shark Week is often criticised for portraying them as scary monsters that pose a much greater danger to us than their true risk. Fortunately, not everyone takes the bait.

Sharks “instantly captivated me with their sheer power and how misunderstood they were”, says marine biologist Melissa Marquez. Marquez, based in Australia, is studying how our perception of these creatures sways support for conservation, and how sharks feature in indigenous legends, myths and folklore.

In myths, sharks are often far from bad. In many indigenous cultures, they are not the terrifying Jaws

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