15-foot tiger sharks prowling near shore force Hawaii to close beaches for 2 days

Offshore sightings of tiger sharks, some as long as 15 feet, led officials to close Hawaii beaches Monday and Tuesday.

The ocean from Kihei Boat Ramp to Kalama Park on Maui remained closed Tuesday, Maui County officials wrote in a notice posted to Facebook.

Shark warning signs also were posted Monday on Pounders Beach on Oahu following sightings of an 8- to 10-foot shark about 20 feet from shore, Hawaii News Now reported.

On Maui, ocean safety and police officers closed beaches and ordered people from the water after at least three tiger sharks around 15 feet long were spotted, Maui County officials say.

The Maui Fire Department had been on the lookout for sharks after reports of dead and dying fish spilling from a damaged net offshore, county officials reported.

On Tuesday, a helicopter looking for sharks found a “10- to 15-foot tiger shark” about 300 yards from shore and a 10-foot shark about 100 yards from shore, according to officials.

No injuries or close encounters with sharks have been reported.

About 40 species of sharks are found in Hawaiian waters, ranging from pygmy sharks to whale sharks, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources reports.

“Whitetip reef, sandbar, scalloped hammerhead and occasionally tiger (sharks)” are the species most commonly found close to shore, the agency says. Tiger sharks are considered the most dangerous normally seen off Hawaii.

In October, officials found the shredded clothing of a missing diver off Hawaii, suggesting a fatal shark attack, McClatchy news group reported.

The month prior, snorkelers on a shark tour off Oahu reported minor injuries after being caught up in an “unreal” shark feeding frenzy, according to a McClatchy news group story.

And in May, a shark attack killed a 65-year-old retired doctor from Granite Bay, California, who had gone out for a last swim on vacation, The Sacramento Bee reported. It was the first fatal shark attack in Hawaii since 2015.

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.