Chip Michalove has been obsessed with sharks since he was 5 years old.
So, it’s no surprise he grew up to become a charter fisherman. For the past 17 years, Michalove, the owner and captain of Outcast Sport Fishing on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, has helped tag hundreds of sharks — mainly tiger sharks. But he hoped to one day fulfill his lifelong dream: to catch a great white in the Atlantic Ocean.
On New Year’s Eve, Michalove’s dream came true in a big way. The fisherman hooked a 16-foot female great white shark.
“One flick of the tail and she can move a 6,000 pound boat without a problem,” Michalove told CBS News.
Michalove’s goal has never been to kill the sharks, but help preserve them. Last year, he began working with scientists at the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy to provide them with tracking information and DNA of the sharks he tags.
He went out on six white shark adventures and managed to tag five great whites between the months of December and March.
Michalove’s New Year’s catch was the second and biggest he’s had this season.
The crew hooked the huge shark late in the day. As the sun went down, they knew they had to make a decision — go home and leave the shark or try to make the tag happen.
The female great white shark pulled the boat for miles until finally she came to a halt, giving the crew a chance to tag the “monster” and capture a quick video. Michalove lowered a pole with a GoPro camera attached into the cold water and caught the female swimming back and forth.
“It was pitch black,” Michalove said. “We weren’t even sure if we’d get one video or picture of this thing.”
But they did, and Michalove is proud to showcase his group’s work. A YouTube video of his adventure has already been viewed nearly 30,000 times.
“I hope it gets people more interested and wanting to protect sharks,” he said. “There are commercial boats killing hundreds of sharks a day. I hope this gets the public involved to see they’re not just out there eating people; they’re extremely important to the ecology.”
Michalove admits his work with great white sharks is still a learning experience, but he plans to continue it and hopes for future encounters.
“Everything’s gone perfect so far,” he said. “I love it. I love the science part of it.”