PICTURED: Surfer, 26, killed in a shark attack at California beach

PICTURED: Married surfer, 26, killed in a shark attack at Northern California beach that was closed to the public because of coronavirus

  • The attack happened Saturday, off Manresa State Beach, south of Santa Cruz   
  • Ben Kelly, 26, was named as the victim of the attack by the coroners office 
  • Friends have paid tribute to Ben online, describing him as ‘one of a kind’
  • He was well known in the Santa Cruz surfing community, owning a board store
  • Great white sharks are commonly seen in the area in the lead-up to summer; one photographer spotted 15 of the sharks in the water earlier in the day 
  • It is the first reported shark attack in Northern California since 2004; during that incident a diver was killed by a 17-foot great white shark  
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

The surfer killed in a shark attack off a Northern California beach on Saturday afternoon has been named by the coroner’s office. 

Ben Kelly died surfing off Manresa State Beach on the northern end of Monterey Bay about 100 yards from the shore just before 1.30pm. 

The 26-year-old is said to have been well known Santa Cruz surfing community. He ran a local business hand crafting boards and has been described by friends as ‘one of a kind’.

Pictures on social media show Ben with his wife Katie and out in the water. They also show him making boards for others.

Paying tribute, one friend wrote: ‘Gonna miss you bro. Thank you for always having that aloha spirit.’ 

Another added: ‘Ben you are one of a kind, one of the good ones, and you will be sorely missed. Aloha bro and much love on your journey to surfing the stars. At least I know you will have a good board under your feet.’

The surfer killed in a shark attack off a Northern California beach on Saturday afternoon has been named by the coroner’s office as Ben Kelly, pictured with his wife Katie 


Ben Kelly died surfing off Manresa State Beach on the northern end of Monterey Bay about 100 yards from the shore just before 1.30pm. The 26-year-old is said to have been well known Santa Cruz surfing community

Kelly was killed in a shark attack off Manresa State Beach in Northern California on Saturday

Police and ambulance vehicles were seen in the beach’s parking lot following the attack

Photos captured by KTVU showed rescue crews on the shoreline shortly after the incident. Police and ambulance vehicles were seen in the beach’s parking lot. 

According to the California State Parks website, Manresa State Beach is fully closed from 11am to 5pm daily amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

During the other times, the beach is open to local residents, and they must abide by guidelines and keep moving – surfing, jogging and swimming is permitted but sitting and sunbathing is not. 

The water one mile north and south of the attack will be closed for five days. Signs were posted warning beachgoers about the attack. 

‘State Parks expresses its deepest sympathy to the family of the victim,’ the statement said.

While it is unclear what species attacked the surfer, great white sharks are commonly seen swimming in the area in the lead up to summer. 

Local drone photographer Eric Mailander told KRON4 that he counted 15 great white sharks while out on his boat on Saturday morning. 

Another drone photographer, Brian Stocks, also captured great whites swimming off the Manresa Beach on Friday.  

According to local news sites, the number of sharks in the area are increasing. One outlet, describe the waters as a ‘shark park’. 

Saturday’s incident was the third fatal shark attack off Northern California since 1984.  

In 2004, a diver was killed by a 17-foot great white shark near Kibeseliah Rock in Mendocino County. 

In 1984, a 28-year-old man was attacked by a shark at Pigeon Point by a 16-foot great white shark. 

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