great white shark circles fishing boat
A fishing boat caught sight of a great white shark circling it in waters off the coast of South Carolina on Dec.22, 2017. Above, tourists get up close to a great white shark as it swims past the cage in Gansbaai, South Africa, Oct. 18, 2009. Getty Images/Dan Kitwood

A group of spectators got more than they bargained for during a fishing expedition Friday off the coast of South Carolina when they were circled by a great white shark.

Chip Michalove, owner and operator of Outcast Fishing on Hilton Head Island, had planned an afternoon of catching and releasing smaller fish like redfish, sea bass, or maybe a small shark when the shark appeared out of nowhere and began swimming around their boat.

"At about noon I saw a big shadow behind the boat, and I was surprised because I was so close in shore," Michalove, who caught and released several great whites before, told the Myrtle Beach Online. "To only be out there for a couple hours and have one circle the boat was pretty rare."

"The shark came in. It would circle the boat a few times, and then it would leave," Michalove added. "Then it would come back. Every time we thought she was gone for good, she showed right back up."

A video of the encounter was posted on YouTube.

Michalove added that the shark did not come close enough for him to hook it or tag it. However, he described it as not at all aggressive and “real timid.” He said sharks were usually looking for dead whales at this time of the year, and the shark may have mistaken his boat for one.

Customers aboard his boat were thrilled with the experience, Michalove said. “They were absolutely blown away. They said ‘how in the world are we going to be able to top this?’ They were so excited they were speechless by the end of the day.”

The shark kept returning to the boat and circling it for 45 minutes before it left.