Lowcountry man helps researchers by catching great whites off S.C. coast

Lowcountry man helps researchers by catching great whites off S.C. coast

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WTOC) - Many of us are fascinated by great white sharks, but one Hilton Head man takes that passion a step further and catches them.

Chip Michalove has lived on Hilton Head Island since the late 80s and has been interested in sharks and becoming a boat captain since he was about five years old.

(Source: Chip Michalove)

“I knew this is what I wanted to do and it was make or break, I was going to be a charter guide no matter what it was going to take,” said Chip Michalove, Owner, Outcast Sport Fishing.

For over 20 years, Michalove spent time on the water in his own boat catching everything from redfish to cobia and even sailfish. Despite his previous catches, there was still one fish that had eluded him.

“The goal was a great white. That was really what I wanted to do. I thought we maybe had one or two down here. I figured if I keep trying every winter, different spots, different ways, different methods, eventually before I die, I am going to see one,” said Michalove.

Five years ago this January, Michalove finally saw and caught his first great white shark off Hilton Head Island.

Caught off Hilton Head Island
Caught off Hilton Head Island (Source: Outcast Sport Fishing)

In achieving a lifelong goal, Michalove opened new doors within the scientific community.

After word got out about Michalove’s catches, he was contacted by multiple researchers to assist in applying tags to his catches.

“I mean, here I am watching Shark Week for years and see Dr. Skomal and John Chisholm on and here I am talking to them. We are talking about strategies and what to try and what tags to apply. It has been a dream come true," said Michalove.

Great white are tagged with these three tags (acoustic, pop-up and satellite)
Great white are tagged with these three tags (acoustic, pop-up and satellite) (Source: WTOC)

“We don’t force the tag. If everything is cooperating, the shark is calm, everything is well, we reach over the side of the boat, we put a satellite tag on the dorsal fin, we put an acoustic tag in, and we put a pop-up tag on,” Michalove said. “My number one concern is I don’t want this shark to die. There have been some organizations that have had some fatalities, I am not going to have that.”

Each of the three tags serves a different purpose that helps researchers know where the shark is including migration patterns, water temperatures, and how often the sharks surface.

These sharks can then be tracked on the Sharktivity app, developed by the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, where you can see them from home.

Some beachgoers have a fear of sharks, but for this part of the Atlantic, great whites typically remain well offshore.

“There’s really nothing to be worried about. We have never had a great white shark attack in this state or Georgia,” said Michalove.

That’s just part of the research Michalove plans to continue for years to come.

“This is already my dream. I am a fisherman by trade and catching great whites is awesome, but if I can help the science community and learn about how to protect these animals and figure out what they are doing and where they are going, I love being a part of it,” Michalove said.

If you are interested in catching a great white shark, you can find Outcast Sport fishing’s info here.

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