05/09/2013 03:05 pm ET Updated Jul 09, 2013

North Pacific Beach Shark Attack: Bitten Body Of Missing California Surfer Found Off San Diego Coast

SAN DIEGO, May 9 (Reuters) - The body of a 42-year-old California surfer who had been reported missing by his fiancée was recovered by lifeguards on Thursday at a popular San Diego surf spot after he apparently drowned and was later bitten by a shark, authorities said.

"The body showed significant trauma consistent with some kind of shark," said San Diego Lifeguard Lieutenant John Everhart. "The Medical Examiner's initial findings are that it was a post-mortem attack."

The surfer, whose name was not immediately released, had been reported missing by his fiancée on Wednesday night and had apparently removed his wetsuit and tied it to the surfboard before he died, Everhart said.

On Wednesday evening, lifeguards received an emergency call that someone was far out in the ocean off Tourmaline Surf Park in the North Pacific Beach area of San Diego.

The caller reported that a man was hanging off a surfboard and appeared to be in trouble, Everhart said. The Coast Guard and lifeguards conducted an extensive search using helicopters, boats and watercraft but were unable to find the person.

They did recover the surfboard with a wetsuit tied around it, he said.

"I don't mean that it was attached to the surfboard by the leash," Everhart added, declining to speculate on why the man apparently removed his wet suit. "It was an intentional act. He took the wetsuit off and tied it securely around his surfboard."

People suffering from advanced stages of hypothermia will sometimes remove their clothing due to an altered mental state. Early on Thursday, a person walking on the sand found the man's body washed up in kelp on the beach near Tourmaline, Everhart said. (Reporting by Marty Graham; Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis, Cynthia Johnston and Chris Reese)