Recovery crews search for body of swimmer, missing in possible shark attack off Marin County coast

The efforts to locate a missing swimmer who may have been attacked by a shark off the Marin County coast has now shifted into a recovery effort, authorities said on Tuesday.

The 52-year-old swimmer was reported missing on Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. near Wildcat Beach, triggering an intense search effort by the National Park Service (NPS) Point Reyes National Seashore and other agencies including Marin County’s sheriff and fire departments and the U.S. Coast Guard. 

"He was swimming with two friends in the ocean when he went missing," park service officials said, noting, "A shark was seen but an attack has yet to be confirmed."

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The search for the man was suspended on Monday morning.  

On Tuesday, NPS officials said a pair of boats, equipped with instruments designed to identify submerged objects, will go out into the water as part of the recovery efforts. 

"The boats will be out there until water conditions become unfavorable," Point Reyes National Seashore Public Information Officer Christine Beekman told KTVU in an email.

The park service also said that teams would be dispatched along Wildcat Beach and nearby overlooks to scan the area as part of a ground search. 

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Deadly shark attacks are extremely rare. Experts said it’s 50 times less likely than getting hit by lightning.

There have only been nine known fatalities from a shark attack in California, according to aquatic biologist John E. McCosker, with the California Academy of Sciences.

"The majority of attacks occur at the surface, placing swimmers, surfers, kayakers, and scuba divers (when at the surface) at greatest risk," McCosker shared on the academy of sciences website.

The expert also noted that an attack by a white shark, which is the only species in California that presents a significant danger to humans, typically occurs near the shore in waters 10 to 30 feet deep.

The identity of the missing swimmer still has not been released. Park officials did offer descriptions, saying he weighs 210 pounds with an athletic build and was wearing black spandex shorts.