A man fishing on the beach alone at Point Reyes National Seashore was swept out to sea and killed on Monday. Witnesses said the fisherman was trying to retrieve his ice chest, which was pulled off the beach by the surf.

Point Reyes, the 71,000-acre preserve just north of San Francisco, has more than 30 miles of wild and windswept beaches. The surf is notorious, with "sneaker waves" occasionally pulling beach walkers and their dogs into the Pacific Ocean.

On Monday just after 12 noon, a man fishing on the beach lost his cooler to the waves and attempted to pull it back to shore. Instead, the sea took him out. A search by the National Park Service and the Marin County sheriff's and fire departments found the drowned man not far from where he had been standing.

The fisherman's name has not yet been released. He had been fishing on North Beach, on the Point Reyes peninsula about 7 miles north of the national seashore's famous lighthouse.

Point Reyes was saved from development by conservationists in 1962. The San Andreas Fault separates the peninsula from the rest of the continental United States. More than 2.5 million locals and visitors come to the national seashore each year. A very, very few of them are taken by the sea. Signs warn beachgoers to keep their eyes on the surf and never go after dogs that are swept away, as dogs are good swimmers and usually get back to shore on their own.

[Photo of Point Reyes Lighthouse via Associated Press.]