Surfer killed in shark attack off California coast

LOS ANGELES Wed Oct 24, 2012 8:36am EDT

Lt. Erik Raney, Santa Barbara County Sheriff's spokesperson, answers questions during a media briefing following a shark attack in the waters off of Vandenberg's Surf Beach, near Vandenberg Air Force Base, Califoria in this handout photograph released by the U.S. Air Force on October 23, 2012. REUTERS/SSgt Levi Riendeau/U.S. Air Force Photo/Handout

Lt. Erik Raney, Santa Barbara County Sheriff's spokesperson, answers questions during a media briefing following a shark attack in the waters off of Vandenberg's Surf Beach, near Vandenberg Air Force Base, Califoria in this handout photograph released by the U.S. Air Force on October 23, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/SSgt Levi Riendeau/U.S. Air Force Photo/Handout

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A shark killed a male surfer at a popular surf spot off California's coast on Tuesday in the second fatal shark attack at the same beach in two years, authorities said.

The incident took place at Surf Beach near Vandenberg Air Force Base, north of the coastal city of Santa Barbara. The beach was closed by authorities after the attack.

"It was a confirmed shark attack and a confirmed death," a Santa Barbara County Sheriff's spokeswoman said.

A friend of the surfer pulled him out of the water after the late-morning attack, but life-saving efforts were unsuccessful and the man was pronounced dead at the scene, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department said in a statement.

Authorities could not immediately identify the size or type of shark involved.

"I don't think they saw enough of the shark to identify it," sheriff's department spokeswoman Diane Cline said.

Fatal shark attacks are rare on the U.S. West Coast, according to records kept by the Shark Research Committee, a nonprofit group that documents attacks.

Surfers were the most frequent victims and Great White sharks were the most frequent attackers, according to the group.

The attack came almost exactly two years after a shark attacked a 19-year-old man on a boogie board at the same beach on October 22, 2010, pulling him underwater. That man died from wounds to his leg.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Will Dunham)

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