Tracking Chessie: Giant Tiger Shark, ‘Size Of A Great White,’ Swims Off Charleston

A massive tiger shark that was tagged last month off Hilton Head island has been revealing her habitat over the past few weeks, signaling researchers from her home territory just a few miles off the coast of Charleston.

The stunningly-large tiger shark was named Chessie by the team that tagged her, after the Chechessee River, as the Inquisitr previously reported. While most tiger sharks are between 300 and 500 pounds, Chessie is more than double that size, weighing in around 1,200 pounds. At 12 feet, two inches long, the shark is in a size range generally reserved for her cousins, the great white sharks. While other tiger sharks have been tagged along the East Coast, Chessie has been acknowledged by researchers as the largest by far.

When Chessie was caught by Captain Chip Michalove and Bryan Frazier of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the tiger shark was fitted with a satellite tag that allows observers to track her through the website of non-profit group Ocearch, as the State reports. Since then, Chessie has proven no slouch in fielding researchers with data. The animal’s tag signals every time her dorsal fin breaks the surface, and the shark has done so several dozen times, nearly every day. Aside from showing a preference to remain near the surface, this behavior has revealed a definitive territory for the unusually large tiger shark.

Chessie last “pinged” on June 2, around 11:43 p.m., while several miles off Folly Beach. The tiger shark’s track has so far shown that she strongly prefers the area off Kiawah Island, though she has come as far north as the Isle of Palms. The first few weeks of tracking have also proven that Chessie has a distinctive habitat, which seems to be centered just south of Charleston, as the Edisto Beach Blog notes.

Much like her fellow shark Mary Lee, a great white also tagged and tracked by Ocearch, Chessie has proven to be immensely popular. In just the first few days after news of her tagging broke, a Twitter handle (unaffiliated with Ocearch) was created for the shark, which now boasts over 13,400 followers. As CBS Philly points out, Mary Lee has proven even more popular, and the white shark now has in excess of 74,000 acolytes on the social media platform.

Though her tracking career is only in its infancy, the tiger shark’s popularity shows no signs of abating. Researchers no doubt have much to learn in the future from Chessie, who has already proven to be a singular and highly unique tiger shark.

[Photo: Ocearch via Twitter]

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