Untamed Lowcountry

Hilton Head charter captain hooks, tags 2,800-plus great white shark .... in the dark

Captain Chip Michalove and his crew might not be able to catch and release great white sharks with their eyes closed, but they can do it in the dark.

Over the weekend, the Hilton Head Island charter captain of Outcast Sport Fishing hooked, tagged and released a 16-foot-great white shark off the island’s coast.

Michalove estimated the female shark his crew caught Saturday weighed between 2,800-3,200 pounds and was “the biggest great white” he’d ever tagged.

It was no easy feat.

It was done in the dark.

And the crew caught it all on video.

“I’m not sure I ever want to try to handle an animal that large in the pitch black,” he said.

Michalove said this catch was trickier than the nine other great white sharks he’s caught and released in his lifetime.

“What are the odds that the largest one I tag has to be in the pitch black of night?” he asked. “Visibility was minimal. We just couldn’t see the line as we were following the shark.”

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Michalove said it was a struggle that stretched over hours.

“She’d go under the boat and we’d lose her for a few minutes,” he said. “But the whole process went perfectly. No close calls or mistakes were made.”

This is the third great white shark Michalove and his two person crew has caught and released this season. In December, Michalove gained national attention for hooking not one, but two great whites off Hilton Head. That was “just the beginning” of his great white shark adventures this season, he said.

“Last December we only tagged one, and this December we’ve had two white shark trips, hooked three and tagged two,” Michalove said. “ So, we’re off to a great start to the season. (It’s) going to be interesting if January is as good or better than December.”

Michalove has now tagged four of the ten great whites he’s caught with acoustic tags that track the shark’s journey through the Atlantic. That information is sent to scientists at the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy in Chatham, Mass., where Michalove has teamed with scientists to further study the ocean’s fiercest predator.

Mandy Matney: 843-706-8147, @MandyMatney

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