Updated 2:55 p.m.
A 61-year-old man was bitten by a shark this morning as he was snorkeling with another man about 200 yards off a beach fronting Halama Street in Kihei, causing officials to prohibit people from going in the ocean nearby, a county announcement said.
Tom Kennedy of Oregon suffered multiple lacerations to his lower left leg and thigh. He was treated on shore and taken to the Maui Memorial Medical Center.
Tom Kennedy, 61, of Oregon talks about his encounter with a shark from his bed at Maui Memorial Medical Center today. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
While awaiting surgery this afternoon at the hospital, Kennedy said from his hospital bed that the incident occurred when he and relatives took out their stand-up paddle boards to snorkel.
He said the water was "turbid" in the area and no fish were around so they were getting ready to get on their boards to move to a better location when the attack took place.
"I was just moving along in a straight line and suddenly I felt a sensation, something big grabbing me on the leg and (I) turned, obviously it was a shark, I could see its left eye and part of its sort of face and head, (then) it released me. I started swimming as fast as I could," said Kennedy. "Obviously, I wanted to get out of the water. I kept watching behind; I was concerned it would come back again."
Waters off of Kamaole Beach Park III to past Waipuilani Park to the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary were closed to swimmers and would remain off limits until sunset today.
The situation will be re-evaluated Saturday. If there are no additional confirmed sightings, the area will likely re-open at 11 a.m. Saturday, the county said.
The size of the shark and its species were unknown, but the victim reported the shark's head was about 2 feet wide.
Warning signs were posted. A Fire Department helicopter surveying the area after the attack spotted an 8-to-10 foot tiger shark in the waters off the sanctuary.
Maui County Ocean Safety officers patrolled the water on personal watercraft. Officials with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources also responded to the incident reported at 10:15 a.m.
For more on this story, see Saturday's Maui News.