POINT REYES NATIONAL SEASHORE, Calif. (KRON) — An ocean swimmer who vanished after a suspected shark attack in Point Reyes and is presumed to be deceased has been identified.
Close friends of the victim told Latitude 38 sailing magazine that the victim was a popular foiling kite surfer, Felix Louis N’jai.
N’jai, 52, was swimming with friends on October 1 off Wildcat Beach at Point Reyes National Seashore when he went missing, National Park Service officials said. His friends told authorities that a shark was seen in the area, along with blood in the water where N’jai disappeared below the water.
An extensive search by the U.S. Coast Guard, Marin County Sheriff’s Office, Marin County Fire Department, and Stinson Beach Fire Department found no signs of N’jai. On Tuesday, NPS officials said the victim was presumed dead. Ocean water temperatures were described as “frigid” by NPS.
N’jai is remembered by his loved ones as a man who was driven by a passion for ocean sports and dreamed of becoming a kiteboarding Olympian, Latitude reported.
“Felix was a regular and accomplished kiting competitor on the Bay, with a large, admired presence in the kiting community. He took third place in the 2022 Ronstan Bridge to Bridge,” Latitude wrote.
Kiteboarder Geoff Headington told the magazine, “We trained together and referred to each other by the nickname ‘coach’ since we were always helping to uplevel each other’s abilities. Felix was an incredibly upbeat, energetic and happy personality who was always a huge positive influence at any gathering on the water. He’d always say to us, ‘See you in church,’ which, to him, meant the church of the world, or see you in your community.”
Officials have not confirmed that a shark attack occurred.
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Hunter Schnabel explained, “We didn’t find the individual, so there’s no way for us to confirm whether or not it was a shark attack.”
NPS officials wrote late Tuesday, “Officials from the National Park Service Point Reyes National Seashore and other agencies continue searching for a swimmer reported missing near Wildcat Beach Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m., but officials are now calling the search a recovery effort.”
October is nicknamed “Sharktober” by some Bay Area wildlife photographers because it’s the time of year when large, migrating great white sharks swim closer to shore along Northern California’s beaches.
“The big ones are here to feed … on the elephant seals, sea lions. I’ve seen many feeding events, usually in Farallon Islands, Ano Nuevo, and Point Reyes,” photographer Eric Mailander previously told KRON4.
Fatal shark attacks are extremely rare. Within the past two decades, there have been seven confirmed fatal shark attacks in California, according to the Shark Research Committee. The most recent confirmed fatality happened in December of 2021 when a boogie boarder was killed in Morro Bay.
The boogie boarder, 42-year-old Tomas Abraham Butterfield of Sacramento, suffered “multiple penetrating blunt force traumatic injuries,” the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s coroner said. One bite mark was 16 inches in radius.
Confirmed fatal shark attacks, according to SRC:
|19 Aug 2003||D. F.||Swimming||Avila, CA|
|15 Aug 2004||R. F.||Diving||Ten Mile River Beach, Ft. Bragg, CA|
|25 Apr 2008||D. M.||Swimming||Fletcher Cove, Solana Beach, CA|
|22 Oct 2010||L. R.||Boogie Brdg||Surf Beach, Vandenberg AFB, CA|
|23 Oct 2012||F. S.||Surfing||Surf Beach, Vandenberg AFB, CA|
|9 May 2020||B. K.||Surfing||Sand Dollar Beach, CA|
|24 Dec 2021||T. B.||Boogie Brdg||Morro Bay, CA|