Perhaps more than in any other country in the world, sharks play an outsized role in Australia’s national psyche as a source of fear and fascination. They have long been front of mind for coastal dwellers, with the debate around culling and its related ecological concerns becoming more heated every year. Reporter and Sharks: A History of Fear in Australia author Callum Denness and shark advocate and conservationist Valerie Taylor (An Adventurous Life) speak with Tom Tilley about where our fascination stems from and how we can share our beaches with these creatures.

Callum Denness (Australian)

Callum Denness

Callum Denness is a journalist and TV producer. He began his career working in the parliamentary press gallery for Fairfax media and has produced television for The Project and ABC’s 7.30 program. His first book is Sharks: A History of Fear in Australia.

Valerie Taylor (Australian)

Valerie Taylor

Valerie Taylor is a pioneering diver, shark advocate, conservationist and artist. An acclaimed spear fisher, she met her husband Ron through this sport and together they became a formidable team and pioneers of skindiving, underwater photography and cinematography. They were the first to film great white sharks without the protection of a cage and made countless shark films, including Blue Water, White Death, which led to their work with Steven Spielberg on Jaws. A renowned conservationist, Valerie has compaigned for the protection of Australia's wild oceans, islands and reefs including the Great Barrier Reef before it was given World Heritage status. She was awarded the Order of Australia in 2003 for her conservation efforts. Valerie lives in Sydney and, at 83, is still diving and still fighting for us to save our oceans. Her memoir Valerie Taylor: An Adventurous Life was published last year.

Tom Tilley (Australian)

Tom Tilley

Tom Tilley is one of Australia’s leading voices in current affairs for young people. Best known for hosting triple j’s Hack program for eight years, he has also guest hosted Radio National Breakfast and Drive and the ABC's Foreign Correspondent. He is now working with The Project and writing his debut memoir Speaking in Tongues, out next year. He has interviewed prime ministers from all sides of politics, Sir David Attenborough , Melinda Gates, Al Gore, Pussy Riot, Tim Winton, David Pocock and Julian Assange.