Hilton Head Island charter captain Chip Michalove has a knack for hooking massive sharks.
As one of the top ocean predators, sharks play an important role in the food web and help ensure balance in the ocean’s ecosystem. While most sharks swimming near our beaches will be less than five feet in length, much larger sharks are out there in deeper water, and local captain Chip Michalove has the pictures to prove it. We asked Michalove to share a few of his favorite catches, which were tagged and released for scientific research.
The Shark Whisperer
Captain Chip Michalove, also known as South Carolina’s Shark Whisperer, has been chasing giant sharks for decades off Hilton Head and now aids scientists all over the country in satellite tagging the first Great White sharks off South Carolina.
On the hook
Captain Chip sizes up the hook location before removing it from this 13-foot male adult White shark. Chip says most hooks are removed, but it’s not imperative to their survival.
Home for the winter
This juvenile 9-foot White shark is one of many that call South Carolina home from December to April. They range anywhere from 7 to 16 feet and weight from 300 to over 3,000 pounds.
The Great Hammerhead is a frequent visitor to HHI in the warmer months, migrating to our area from southern Florida. The larger ones are here giving birth and feeding on large schools of tarpon. This 12-footer was tagged and released in Port Royal Sound.
White sharks, like this one caught in 2019, are one of our only shark species that migrate from the north. Every White shark that inhabits our waters in the colder months spends the majority of its time off Canada and Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where seals are abundant.
The great shark Hunter
This White shark is named Hunter after a local special-needs child who has an obsession with sharks. “The kid knew more about sharks than I did, like how many gill slits they had and the gestation period. His knowledge was impressive. Hunter was an important shark for us and spent a lot of time on the surface post-release.” He remained off Hilton Head for a month after release before going north.
Armed to the teeth
This 10-foot female Great White shark was tagged and released off Hilton Head. She spent over a month off Daytona Beach before swimming back north into the Bay of Fundy.
Gone but not forgotten
Ben Friedman reaches over for a quick picture with an 11-foot White shark named Bob-O, which was satellite-tagged and named after local fisherman Bob Hughes, who lost his battle with Covid in October 2021. This shark was tracked all the way to Nova Scotia, where she is still monitored today.