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Surfer killed in shark attack off California coast

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File photo of a shark (Credit: Patrick Brinksma)

A 26-year-old man has been killed by a shark while surfing off the coast of Central California, local officials say, making it the first fatal shark attack in the state in nearly 8 years.

The incident happened at about 1:30 p.m. PDT on Saturday when the 26-year-old man was surfing near Manresa State Beach in Santa Cruz County, about 27 miles (44 kilometers) south of San Jose.

The California Department of Parks and Recreation said the man was attacked by a shark about one mile south of the main parking lot. “The victim was pronounced dead on scene,” the department said in a statement.

The type of shark was not immediately known.

The water one mile south and north of the scene will be closed for five days as a result of Saturday’s shark attack, the department said. Signs warning beachgoers about the attack have been posted on access points and beach entrances within a one-mile radius.

Saturday’s death marks the first fatal shark attack in California since October 2012, when a 39-year-old man was killed by a great white shark while surfing off a beach at Vandenberg Air Force Base. It’s also the first fatal shark attack in the U.S. since May 2019.

While sharks are a common fear, they only kill about six people per year on average, according to figures from the International Shark Attack File (ISAF). Six people were killed in shark attacks last year, which was slightly up from five in 2018.

“The somber truth is that most of the world’s shark populations are in decline, or exist at greatly reduced levels, as a consequence of overfishing and habitat loss,” ISAF said. It said fisheries kill about 100 million sharks and rays annually.

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