A 26-year-old surfer was attacked by a shark and killed Saturday afternoon about 100 yards off Sand Dollar Beach, and this was the first fatality from a shark attack in the region in decades.
The attack happened around 1:30 p.m. near the northern end of Monterey Bay, as ABC 7 reports. 26-year-old Ben Kelly, a Santa Cruz County resident, was surfing just south of Manresa State Beach when an unknown species of shark attacked him. Now, until May 14, the waters will be closed to swimming and surfing up to one mile south and one mile north of San Dollar Beach, where the attack took place.
Kelly was reportedly pronounced dead at the scene.
In a statement, California State Parks wrote, "State Parks expresses its deepest sympathy to the family of the victim."
As the Chronicle reports, Manresa State Beach was already closed to sunbathers as part of the state's efforts to encourage social distancing, though swimming and surfing were still allowed.
KRON4 reporter Amy Larson posted aerial photos from a friend on Twitter showing a lot of recent great white shark activity, apparently in the vicinity of Santa Cruz.
A shark attack happened at Sand Dollar Beach in Santa Cruz County today. My friend Eric Mailander has been observing dozens of great white sharks swimming near shore lately and shot these photos. Shark attacks against people are extremely rarehttps://t.co/9yrsS2tRWf @kron4news pic.twitter.com/2Lzw3Kkypj— Amy Larson (@AmyLarson25) May 9, 2020
Shark attacks in California are rare, with each year on average seeing less than two — and fatal shark attacks are even rarer. According to the California Academy of Sciences, there have only ever been 9 fatal shark attacks off the California coast in recorded history, before this one, and only 99 unprovoked shark attacks overall. With Saturday's attack, that would make 100.
And the Academy of Sciences says that white sharks are the only species here that pose a danger to humans.
Below is a map of every recorded shark attack in and around the Bay Area that was first published in 2015. At that time, the Chronicle reported that the last fatality from a shark attack near San Francisco occurred in 1959, at Baker Beach — but Wikipedia notes that a diver was attacked and killed by a shark off Pigeon Point in San Mateo County in 1984. The most recent fatalities from shark attacks in California happened in 2010 and 2012 in Santa Barbara County.
Photo: Marcello Cidrack