A 1,400 pound tiger shark, which was first caught off the South Carolina coast last year, has been hooked once more by the same angler who brought her to public attention and named her last summer.
The shark was first caught in early 2015 just off Hilton Head Island by Chip Michalove of Outcast Sport Fishing, an angler who works in conjunction with Ocearch, a nonprofit group dedicated to tracking sharks worldwide. At the time, Michalove noted the shark’s impressive size, comparing her head to that of a great white shark and determining that she weighed roughly 1,200 pounds, as the Inquisitr then reported. Affixing a tag that allowed the shark to be tracked, Michalove released her, giving the unique animal the name Chessie, after the nearby Chechessie River.
— MarketRunner (@SWGaspar) May 25, 2016
In the ensuing months, Chessie remained in the area off Hilton Head before moving northward along the coast, all the while under the watchful eye of Ocearch researchers. In the past year, the tiger shark has traveled some 2,000 miles, while simultaneously gaining 200 pounds of weight. In May 2015, when Chessie was originally documented, Michalove noted that she was already the biggest tiger shark ever tagged on the East Coast.
Earlier this week, Michalove and Chessie were reunited when the unique tiger shark took the angler’s bait for a second time, roughly a half mile from shore. On Wednesday night, Michalove shared a photo to his Facebook page, according to The State, revealing that he had once again caught the shark.
“She’s a lot bigger, much stronger, but sweet as ever.”
— EatSleepPlayBeaufort (@espbft) May 26, 2016
When Chessie was first caught last May, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources official Bryan Frazier was on hand to take DNA and blood samples from the animal. As she was tied alongside Michalove’s boat, Frazier inserted a satellite tag into Chessie’s dorsal fin, which has since allowed researchers to closely follow her movements. While the shark was initially easy to track, she long ago went quiet, and hasn’t “pinged” on researchers’ sensors since July 5 of last year.
Chessie is hardly the only shark tracked by Ocearch, who are known for their work with great whites and other species as well. Quite possibly the most famous shark in the Ocearch stable, a great white named Mary Lee, became a media sensation last year, due primarily to her ongoing proximity to populated shores, as National Geographic notes. First tagged in Cape Cod in 2012, Mary Lee has since gained an impressive online following, much like one of Ocearch’s other famed sharks, Katharine.
Did you catch my story about this 1400 pound shark named Chessie? pic.twitter.com/AVUH29ZqCI
— Tori Simkovic (@WJCL22Tori) May 27, 2016
Michalove has experience catching great whites as well, as the apex predators are no strangers to the region around Beaufort County. Some of Ocearch’s white sharks have pinged in the area, and the organization’s founder, Chris Fischer, even theorized in 2014 that Mary Lee may have given birth there.
While tiger sharks are the primary focus of researchers in the waters surrounding Hilton Head, more than 17 species of shark are known to frequent the Port Royal Sound. The area features a high salinity and a robust food supply which makes it something of a hotbed for shark activity on the East Coast.
Just like many of the other sharks tagged by Ocearch, Chessie enjoys a healthy following on Twitter, where an account attributed to her name regularly responds to followers. Those interested can follow Chessie’s movements on Twitter, or they can opt to track the elusive tiger shark using Ocearch’s website.