Maui News

Possible shark encounter in South Maui, search underway for missing woman at Keawakapu

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Dan Dennison, Senior Communications Manager with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources discussed the circumstances surrounding today’s search.
An air search is underway along the south Maui shoreline. Ocean Safety Personnel are also patrolling area waters. This video is from Keawakapu Beach. VC: Leila Kalani Larson (12.8.22)

Update: 2:42 p.m., Friday, Dec. 9, 2022

The search for a missing 60-year-old Washington State woman was called off at noon today, after teams from the Maui Fire Department, Maui Ocean Safety division, and the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement failed to find her, state officials said.

The woman’s husband and other witnesses told authorities that a large shark was spotted about 50-yards off-shore at Keawakapu Point in south Maui just before noon on Thursday, according to officials with DLNR.

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 reported his wife missing, according to a DLNR update.

Crews remained on scene until 2 p.m. Friday, after a large shark, believed to be a Tiger shark, was spotted in the area.


“A subsequent survey did not provide any evidence that the 10-12-foot-long shark was still in the area, so shark warning signs have now been removed,” according to a department press release.

The full update is posted here.

Update: 9:32 a.m., Friday, Dec. 9, 2022

The search resumes today for a woman who went missing Thursday while snorkeling in waters off of South Maui. The US Coast Guard is describing the missing individual as a 60 year-old female. She was last seen approximately 75-yards off of Keawakapu Beach before noon on Thursday. The woman’s husband who was snorkeling with her, told authorities he observed a shark repeatedly swim by. He was unable to locate his wife and called 911.

Update: 5:12 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022


New information has surfaced in the search for a missing woman in waters off of South Maui, where her husband reported seeing a shark swim by repeatedly before noon on Thursday. State officials say the man was snorkeling off of Keawakapu Point in the Kīhei area, when he noticed the shark.  

After looking for his wife, the man returned to shore and called 911, according to Dan Dennison, Senior Communications Manager with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

During a press briefing Thursday afternoon, Dennison said an extensive air and water search was launched, and will continue until nightfall.  Crews are expected to resume the search again at first light on Friday morning.  

The search involves personnel with the Maui Fire Department and Ocean Safety Division, who have been patrolling the area on Jet Skis and sending divers out to search nearby waters.  The search also involves assets from the US Coast Guard.    

As of 4:45 p.m., search crews had not spotted anyone in the water, according to Dennison.  


Shark warning signs have been posted by Maui Fire and Ocean Safety personnel with support and assistance from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement and the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources.  

“Those signs have effectively closed entry into the ocean between the Mana Kai Maui condos to the north end of Wailea Beach,” Dennison said.  

The public is advised to stay clear of water entry in the area until further notice.

At this time, authorities are not releasing information on the missing woman or her husband including names, ages, or their home town.  In addition to the husbands observations, state officials say there were witnesses on the beach, but details on what they may have seen or reported to authorities was not immediately available.  

Referring to advice that the department traditionally shares from shark experts, Dennison said, “Don’t go in the water if it’s murky.  I have no idea what the ocean conditions were in the area this afternoon.  Don’t go in after dark or before sunrise.  Always swim, snorkel, or recreate in the ocean with a companion.  Those would be the main things the experts always advise us to do,” he said.

Maui Now graphic.

Update: 2:38 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022

Emergency response crews and law enforcement are on the scene of a possible shark encounter in South Maui. Officials with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources say a call was placed just before noon today, reporting the incident about 50-yards from shore at Keawakapu Point.

First responders and officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement are currently on the scene attempting to account for all individuals who may have been involved, according to a department news release.

The public is encouraged to stay clear of the area for emergency operations and traffic.

The Maui Fire Department has multiple personnel on skis and diving, and MFD Air 1 and US Coast Guard aircraft are conducting aerial searches. The MFD rescue boat is also responding.

Shark warning signs have been posted from the Mana Kai condominiums to Ulua Point and will remain in place at least until noon Friday, after an all-clear is issued.

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DOCARE officers and first responders are on the scene of a reported shark/human encounter in the Kīhei area on Maui.

Ocean Safety personnel aboard department Jet Skis are patrolling area waters, as well as personnel on Rescue Boat 10. A helicopter was also deployed to conduct searches over a 2.5 mile area between the Kīhei Boat Ramp to Polo Beach in the Wailea-Mākena area.

*This is an active response and further details will be posted when they become available.

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.
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