KAANAPALI (HawaiiNewsNow) – A dive instructor working out of a Maui resort risked possible injury Monday when he cut loose a 5-foot white tip reef shark that was tethered by a fishing line to a reef off Kaanapali.
Michael Lipp, 35, was with a customer in about 25 feet of water roughly 300 yards off-shore from the Marriott's Maui Ocean Club when they spotted the shark motionless on the bottom. It had a hook in its mouth. The line attached to the hook was tangled on coral preventing the shark from swimming freely.
"You could see coming over him he had a line and a hook in his mouth. It looked like pretty strong 200 pound test line. And it was all wrapped up in the coral pretty tight," said Lipp, who works for 5 Star Scuba.
Rather than leave the shark, Lipp went back to shore – got a knife and swam back out to cut the shark free.
At first Lipp cut the line near the point where it was wrapped around the reef.
"I held onto the line to see how he was going to react. And he kind of just sat there for a second. And I just kind of lifted up the line and started swimming up in front of him and then he just kind of lifted up off the reef a little bit and then he started swimming off back heading south. And I held the line, just kept following him around. He started cruising and then I kept getting closer because I didn't want to leave too much line on him," Lipp said.
He inched closer and closer. Then with his hands just a couple feet from the shark's mouth, he cut the line one last time.
"I could have been hurt and that's what I was thinking. If I get hurt it's going to put me out of work, but at the same time if I didn't do anything about that, that shark would have died," Lipp concluded.
He is hoping the hook, which is still lodged in the shark's mouth, will either work itself free or rust away. Either way, Lipp gave the shark a new lease on life.