Chip Michalove and his crew were about to wrap up their final fishing trip of 2016 on New Year’s Eve when they spotted a big – no, huge – creature lurking in the water below.
“We were getting ready to call it a day and she showed up,” said Michalove of the massive, 16-foot shark he discovered off the coast of Hilton Head Island, S.C., the resort area along the state’s Atlantic coast.
Michalove, the owner of Outcast Sport Fishing in Hilton Head, said they came across the shark, which weighed between 2,800 and 3,200 pounds, about 3:30 p.m. They were able to hook it, but fought the shark into the pitch darkness. It pulled their boat for miles before they were able to get it onto the boat. There they tagged it and released it back into the wild.
“She was massive,” he said. “It was kind of like pulling a rhinoceros.”
It wasn’t Michalove’s first encounter with a shark, but it was the biggest one he’s ever tagged with a tracking device. Over the past three years, he’s hooked nine sharks and tagged a handful. Michalove works with the Massachusetts-based Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, which raises awareness about white sharks “as a keystone species of the ocean ecosystem.” The sharks migrate south during the winter, Michalove said.
Michalove said he wasn’t able to get a good photo of the shark, but was able to capture some video footage with his GoPro camera.