Great white shark fatally attacked surfer off Santa Cruz coast, forensic scientists confirm

Experts confirmed the shark that killed a 26-year-old surfer off the Santa Cruz coast on Saturday was a great white. 

On Tuesday, California State Parks, the California Department Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and Long Beach State University’s Shark Lab revealed the new details into Ben Kelly's death. 

Forensic analysis of DNA evidence obtained from the victim's wetsuit and surfboard demonstrated that a great white shark, between 10 to 12 feet, fatally attacked Kelly who was surfing at Manresa State Beach on the northern end of Monterey Bay. 

Based on an autopsy performed Monday, Kelly sustained a gash to his right knee that caused him to bleed to death, according to the East Bay Times. 

The attack happened around 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, about 100 yeards offshore. Kelly was pronounced dead at the scene. 

At the time of the attack, the beach was closed to visitors to maintain physical-distancing norms during the coronavirus crisis, but swimming and surfing were allowed in the water. As a safety precaution, authorities closed the water 1 mile north and south of the attack until Thursday. Signs have been posted warning beachgoers about the attack.

A photographer who was kayaking nearby said he has observed dozens of great white sharks swimming near the shoreline in recent days. He said he counted 15 sharks while out on his boat Saturday morning.

None were showing signs of aggressive behavior, he said. 

Kelly is remembered as a gifted craftsman and owner of "Ben Kelly Surfboards." On the website for his business, Kelly explained that he began shaping surfboards as a boy because it gave him a creative outlet and fueled his love for surfing.

Kelly's death marks the first fatal shark attack in California in eight years. He is survived by his wife Katie.