A veteran Maui surfer had an up-close and personal encounter with a large tiger shark today off Ukumehame, near the popular snorkeling spot at Mile Marker 14 along Honoapi’ilani Highway. According to DLNR Enforcement officers on Maui, today a year old Haiku man, identified as Matt Kinoshita, owner of Kazuma Surfboards and a Maui firefighter, was paddle surfing about 75 yards off Ukumehame in about five feet of water about 2 p.m. when he saw an eight-foot-long tiger shark approaching him from the side with its mouth open. The encounter was brief but exciting and neither creature was injured.
Kinoshita says he turned his board toward the shark and ran over its back with the board. Fortunately he did not fall off his board. He lost sight of it and the shark may have swum in the Kihei direction.
In a post on MauiWatch, Kinoshita said, “That was the most excitement I have had in the water in a looong time. The Tiger charged me diagonal from a distance and I chose to try to attack it back and it worked. Right before we hit head on the shark veered off just enough for me to miss it’s open mouth and pass between the front and back fins. The thing is that I am 100 percent certain that if it really wanted to eat me then there is nothing that I could do, it was just curious.”
Kinoshita reported the incident to lifeguards and contacted DOCARE. Maui Ocean Safety sent out a lifeguard on a jet ski to monitor the waters, but there was no further sighting. The DOCARE officer and another lifeguard monitored from shore and warned divers and surfers in the water. Water conditions were clear with one-foot waves. The beach was not closed and no warning signs were posted. Following the state shark protocol, monitoring was continued for two hours after the initial sighting.