It’s beginning to look a lot like great white shark season in South Carolina.
On Monday, South Carolina’s Great White Shark Whisperer and his fishing crew at Outcast Sport Fishing hooked two 11-foot great white sharks a few miles off the coast of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
Chip Michalove said he was wrapping up a charter trip, just as the sun was starting to set, when the first monstrous fish tugged the line.
He said the ocean was calm and flat Monday, and suddenly the three men were “battling the baddest fish on the planet.”
He said one of the men was a pastor and also an avid fishermen who had wanted to see a great white shark his whole life.
“We were talking about how this is probably the closest you can get to heaven without crossing over,” Michalove said, describing the rush of reeling in a great white shark.
The first shark spit out the hook and took off, but Michalove and his super-great-white-shark-whisperer senses decided to hang around the spot for a few more minutes.
Just 45 minutes later, the crew hooked another 11-foot male shark in the same spot.
“We usually get one chance a day to hook a great white. Occasionally we get two, sometimes even three. But very rarely do you see another swim up 45 mins later,” Michalove said. “Seeing another that fast afterwards is an indication they’re all back.”
Michalove works to ensure the process and methods he uses to catch great white sharks on rod-and-reel puts minimal stress on the animal.
Every time Michalove catches a great white — a feat of its own — he does his best to place a tag on the fish so scientists at the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries can track the shark’s movements in the Atlantic.
Great White Science
Like clockwork, great white sharks swarm the South Carolina coast from December to March every year. They make their journey from the New England area, where the scientists teaming up with Michalove spot the rare creatures in the summertime.
But this year, the great white shark schedule is a little out-of whack and they’re behind.
“It was warmer than normal in cape cod this fall. It delayed the migration a little. I think these sharks would stay off Massachusetts all year chasing seals if they could,” Michalove told FITSNews.”Thankfully the nor’easters finally pushed them down here.”
Michalove said his friend in New England told him a seal was just killed in the Cape Cod area last week, which is another indication the great white sharks are running behind.
Michalove said great white sharks prefer water temperatures between 54 and 68 degrees and can be found anywhere between the sounds and the Gulf Stream, up to 60 miles off shore.
Michalove estimates that there are around 1,000 great white sharks off the South Carolina coast every winter.
Because great whites only are here in the winter time, South Carolina hasn’t had any great white shark attacks on record.
Becoming Hilton Head’s great white shark whisperer was no easy task. Michalove studied the creatures for decades and spent seven straight unsuccessful winters searching for great white sharks off the Lowcountry coast.
For years, he was made fun of by the other local fishermen who said Chip was on a “great white goose chase” trying to catch a creature they weren’t sure was out there.
Until one January day in 2014 — Michalove caught his first great white shark. Then he caught another. And another.
“I’m addicted to it,” Michalove said. “You can’t match the adrenaline rush of being connected to a 2,000-pound fish.”
He’s hooked over 30 great white sharks for scientific research. And not stopping anytime soon.
Michalove’s great white shark adventures have landed him in the national spotlight several times.
In January, Michalove named a great white shark after after Grace Sulak, a Bluffton teen who was killed in an unsolved hit-and-run collision on eastbound I-26 in May 2016. As expected, the story about the shark went viral and helped give Sulak’s case the attention it deserved.
Michalove has also made national news for other encounters with the ocean’s most amazing creatures.
Earlier this month, Michalove was lucky enough to spot a mom and calf North Atlantic right whales swimming off the coast of Hilton Head.
To learn more about Chip Michalove and his journey to discover more about great white sharks off the coast of South Carolina, check out this newly released documentary by Salt Creek Films.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR..
Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an investigative journalist from Kansas who has worked for newspapers in Missouri, Illinois, and South Carolina before making the switch to FITS. She currently lives on Hilton Head Island where she enjoys beach life. Mandy also hosts the Murdaugh Murders podcast. Want to contact Mandy? Send your tips to [email protected].
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