Officials in California confirmed the death of a surfer in a shark attack on Saturday. Ben Kelly, 26, had been surfing off the coast of Manresa State Beach near Santa Cruz at around 1:30 p.m. when the shark is believed to have attacked him.

The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department declared the surfer dead on the scene when they arrived at Sand Dollar Beach and later notified his family. Kelly’s identity was not revealed by police or park officials but was confirmed to multiple outlets by the Santa Cruz County Coroner. He was said to be a known figure in the local surfing community, running a business called Ben Kelly Surfboards.

“State Parks expresses its deepest sympathy to the family of the victim,” the California State Parks agency said in a statement.

It is unknown what species of shark attacked Kelly. The park’s safety procedures have called for Manresa Beach to remained closed until Thursday, except for water sports. Signs will be posted warning of sharks in a one-mile radius around where the attack occurred.

“It makes me horribly sad,” a local resident told KRON4 News. “I love the ocean and I hate for people to be scared of it.”

Also speaking to KRON4, local drone photographer Eric Mailander said that he had recently observed a greater number of Great White sharks in area and counted 15 on Saturday alone while on his boat.

Santa Cruz is located on California’s Monterey Bay and situated roughly 33 miles south of San Jose.

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Great White Shark Pixabay