South Carolina

He thought he’d never see the giant shark again — Surprise!

Chessie, a tiger shark tagged a year ago, was caught by same charter captain on Wednesday.
Chessie, a tiger shark tagged a year ago, was caught by same charter captain on Wednesday. Submitted

Chessie is back in Beaufort County.

The giant tiger shark caught a year ago by a Hilton Head charter fisherman and satellite tagged for research resurfaced Wednesday — caught by the same captain.

Chip Michalove, of Outcast Sport Fishing, posted a photo of the estimated 1,200-pound shark to his Facebook page Wednesday night.

“She’s a lot bigger, much stronger, but sweet as ever,” he posted.

Chessie, named for the Chechessie River was tagged May 18, 2015, in Port Royal Sound off Hilton Head. At the time, Michalove said the shark was the biggest tiger shark tagged on the East Coast.

The tag allows researchers to track the giant animal. Chessie has traveled more than 2,000 miles since being tagged but had not “pinged” since July 5, 2015.

Bryan Frazier, with S.C. Department of Natural Resources, was aboard for the first chase last May. He took DNA and blood samples and inserted the satellite tag in the fish’s dorsal fin.

The tracking is a project of nonprofit OCEARCH, which wants to learn more about the movement and biology of sharks. The organization’s most famous subject is Mary Lee, a 3,500-pound great white shark tagged in Cape Cod, Mass.

Michalove has also caught and tagged white sharks.

The Port Royal Sound has been identified by scientists as a hotbed for sharks on the East Coast because of its high salinity and abundant food supply.

Great white sharks tagged by OCEARCH have “pinged” in the Beaufort County area. OCEARCH founder Chris Fischer told The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet in 2014 he thought Mary Lee had given birth here.

In all, 17 species of sharks are known to frequent the waters.

The tiger sharks are the focus of most of researchers’ attention here. Some of those tagged are associated with various groups.

Chessie represents the Port Royal Sound Maritime Center. The Harry Hampton Wildlife Fund paid $5,000 to sponsor a tag that went to Harry-Ette — a 12-foot, 850-pound tiger shark.

“We’ve learned more in the last two years than we’ve learned in 20,” Michalove said last year.

Video of Chessie

Stephen Fastenau: 843-706-8182, @IPBG_Stephen