Shark attack? Hawaii officials call off search for missing woman after shark sighting

Authorities in Hawaii  have suspended the search for a 60-year-old woman who disappeared in the water following a shark sighting and possible shark attack.

Sometime after noon Thursday, Maui police received a call from a man who said he saw a shark swim by repeatedly as he snorkeled about 50 yards from Keawakapu Point, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources spokesperson Dan Dennison said in a news conference Thursday.

The point is located on the southeastern part of the island.

After spotting the shark, the man searched for the woman and returned to shore after he was unable to find her, Dennison said.

The woman was last seen just before noon, he said.

The Maui Fire Department and Maui Ocean Safety officers spent Thursday looking for the woman in the water, Dennison said

On Friday afternoon, the United States Coast Guard Hawaii Pacific tweeted rescuers continued to search for the woman using boats, helicopters, planes and jet skis due to "a possible shark attack".

The search was called off Friday.

Coast Guard public affairs specialist Ryan Fisher told The Maui News the agency received a report the husband and wife were snorkeling when the husband saw a shark and tried to fight it off. He quickly swam to shore and called 911 when he didn’t see his wife.

Fisher told the outlet the man's wife was last seen wearing a blue bathing suit.

A snorkeling set and part of a bathing suit were later found in the area where the woman disappeared, Hawaii News Now reported.

Dennison did not identify the couple.

He said the agency could not share information about the man or woman due to policies on shark-related incidents but said there was an ongoing search for "a person who possibly encountered a shark."

The size and species of shark was not immediately known, according to Dennison.

Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources and Maui police could not immediately be reached by USA TODAY.

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A black-tip sharks is seen swimming during a baited shark dive near Durban, South Africa, on December 10, 2020.
A black-tip sharks is seen swimming during a baited shark dive near Durban, South Africa, on December 10, 2020.

Dennison said people are being asked to avoid the area where the shark was spotted.

Natalie Neysa Alund covers trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hawaii searching for missing woman after 'possible shark attack'