Update: Search ends for missing snorkeler off Maui after possible shark encounter
This story was updated at 2:49 p.m. Dec. 9.
The search for a missing 60-year-old Washington state woman who went missing Dec. 8 while snorkeling in waters off South Maui was was called off at noon Dec. 9 after teams from the Maui Fire Department, Maui Ocean Safety and Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources Enforcement were unable to locate her.
The woman was was last seen in waters about 75 yards off Keawakapu Beach before noon Thursday. Based on reports from her husband and others, a large shark was spotted about 50 yards offshore about the same time at Keawakapu Point.
The woman’s husband reported while the couple was snorkeling he saw a shark swim by but could not see his wife. The shark swam by several times before the man returned to shore and called 911 to report his wife missing. State officials said Thursday that there were witnesses on the beach, but details about what they might have seen or reported to authorities were not available.
First responders used personal watercraft, a rescue boat, a helicopter and a U.S. Coast Guard aircraft to search the area until nightfall Thursday. The search resumed at daybreak Friday, and Department of Land and Natural Resources Enforcement officers remained on scene until 2 p.m. after what is thought to be a large tiger shark was spotted in the area.
A subsequent survey of the area did not provide any evidence that the 10- to 12-foot shark was still in the area, so shark warning signs were removed.
Under shark incident protocols, the Department of Land and Natural Resources does not release the names of individuals involved in shark encounters.
The state Land Department, Maui County and other agencies and individuals involved in the search extend their condolences to the missing woman’s family and friends.