MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The year 2013 holds a record for shark encounters on Maui, and seven days into the new year, county officials are reporting another incident in Maui waters.
Matt Kinoshita, a surfer and firefighter on the Valley Isle, says he faced an eight-foot tiger shark at about 2 o'clock Wednesday afternoon while standup paddling off Ukumehame in West Maui.
"I turned around for this really small wave, and as I was dropping in on the wave I noticed something coming at me from the shore," Konoshita told Hawaii News Now. "It was a big tiger shark with his mouth above the water."
The 43-year-old Haiku resident says he made a split-second decision to aim his board straight at the shark's mouth.
"I do believe that if the shark wanted to eat me it would have," he said. "I think I just scared it when I went at it instead of the usual running away … I aimed at it and it worked. I played chicken with a shark."
The shark passed directly beneath Kinoshita's board.
Lifeguards patrolled the waters but decided to keep the beach open after no further sightings of the shark.
Last year, eight shark attacks took place off Maui – two of them fatal.