PAWLEYS ISLAND, S.C. (WBTW) — An upstate family got a shark surprise while visiting the South Strand on vacation.

The Whitakers said they’ve been visiting the Pawleys Island/Litchfield Beach area for more than 40 years, but this was the closest they’ve ever been to a shark, which was only a few feet away.

The family said they’ve been lucky in seeing other wildlife like dolphins and sting rays while visiting, but this one was a first.

Scott Whitaker said his kids found almost 200 shark teeth. He said he joked with them that they were going to see a shark eventually.

“I think the tide was just right. Because you have the little tidal pool and it’s a little bit deep right there, and he was hungry and maybe took a chance, who knows,” Whitaker said while laughing.

The Whitakers think the shark was about four feet long. They were sitting on the beach when they saw flapping in the water.

“I think it would have been a little different reaction,” Shanna Whitaker said. “Since we were on the shore it was really easy to just run over and be excited and, you know, the kids were squealing and stuff — not out of fear. However, if it had been in the water with us, it probably would have been a different story.”

Shanna Whitaker said she knows sharks are always in the ocean, so their little run-in with one isn’t going to stop them from swimming.

Jackie LiBrizzi is a multimedia journalist at News13. Jackie is originally from Hamilton, New Jersey, and raised in Piedmont, South Carolina. Jackie joined the News13 team in June 2023 after she graduated as a student-athlete from the University of South Carolina in May 2023. Follow Jackie on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram and read more of her work here.