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Here's What's Really Frightening About Sharks

"These animals aren't what anyone thinks they are."

The first movie cinematographer Joe Romeiro ever saw was "Jaws." Like many, he was frightened by the massive, man-eating shark. But Romeiro's fear didn't last. Rather, it turned into fascination.

Through his experience as a veteran underwater filmmaker and the director of underwater photography for Discovery Channel's "Shark Week," Romeiro has worked with top shark researchers and spent a lot of time getting up close and personal with these animals. As Romeiro says in the above clip from "SuperSoul Sunday," the way sharks are portrayed in films, entertainment and often the news media perpetuates an inaccurate stereotype.

"It's the world's biggest lie," Romeiro says. "These animals aren't what anyone thinks they are."

Rather than viewing sharks as aggressive, bloodthirsty creatures, the cinematographer has a much different perspective.

"They really are exquisite, some of them so elusive and hard to find. It's strong, it's beautiful, it's fast, it's vicious in some eyes, it's powerful," he says. "I feel very fortunate to be able to showcase these animals to millions of people throughout the world." 

It's amazing -- these animals have such a tolerance for humans and we have no tolerance for them.

But there is something frightening about sharks, Romeiro says. It just doesn't have anything to do with their size, strength or power.

"Shark populations are dropping 70-100 million sharks a year," he states. "That's three sharks every second. That's mass extinction."

There are several reasons for these disappearances going unnoticed, Romeiro adds. "All these horrible things happen to these animals that people just don't see, don't know or they don't care about them," he says. "It's amazing -- these animals have such a tolerance for humans and we have no tolerance for them." 

Ultimate, Romeiro says that sharks need two things from us: protection and understanding.

"These animals need to be protected, and we need to evolve in the way we see them," Romeiro says. "You understand things you confront, and I really believe that. That's what we do."

"SuperSoul Sunday" airs Sundays at 11 a.m. ET on OWN. Shark Week returns to Discovery on Sunday, June 26, at 8 p.m. ET.

Another animal crusader:

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