SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) – Friends and family continue to mourn the loss of 26-year-old Ben Kelly, who was killed in a shark attack over the weekend at Sand Dollar Beach.

Monterey Bay drone photographer Eric Mailander told KRON4 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.

Wildlife biologist Forrest Galante, who hosts Animal Planet’s “Extinct or Alive,” said the shark that attacked and killed Kelly probably had not seen a surfer in the area since stay-at-home orders were enacted.

With a lack of humans in the water, the shark was most likely comfortable and attacked when its area was disturbed, Galante added.

Shark attacks are most often a case of mistaken identity as they hunt for seals, Galante said, adding that the increase in shark sightings is not uncommon since sharks are now hunting in areas previously frequented by humans.

People are urged to exercise extreme cation, especially since many California beaches are reopening or are expected to reopen this week.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, animals worldwide – from bears and bobcats at Yosemite to marine life in Hawaii – have been spotted reclaiming their natural habitats as humans continue to shelter-in-place amid the pandemic.

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