Whale watchers atop Bodega Head on Friday afternoon spotted what they said was a woman's body on a rock in the surf below and called 911, launching an effort by firefighters, deputies and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Responders saw the body when they first arrived but then it was washed away, said Todd Rollings, a Captain with the Bodega Bay Fire Protection District. No body was recovered Friday afternoon, he said.
However, the search will likely continue Saturday. He said a report of a person who went missing along the coast was filed with the Sheriff's Office last weekend, but could not provide more information.
A 911 caller first reported the sighting at 1:15 p.m., according to Sonoma County emergency dispatch reports.
The Sonoma County sheriff's helicopter lowered a deputy and a paramedic to the rock, just west of the base of Bodega Head.
Deputy Chris Mahoney said they spent about an hour on the rock in the water but were unable to locate a person or body.
Tony Dearing of New Jersey said he was one of the people who saw the body, which appeared to be tattooed and partially clothed.
"At first I thought it might be a seal. But using binoculars you clearly can see it was the body of a woman, just laying on the rocks," said Dearing.
"A wave came in, rushed over the rocks and pushed the body into the water. Several people called 911," Dearing said.
"Things are kind of intense right now," he said, describing how the helicopter had lowered the two to the rock and a Coast Guard boat had joined the search.
Sheriff's deputies and Bodega Bay firefighters also responded to the call. Deputies were at Bodega Head questioning witnesses and fanning out along the ledge in an effort to spot the body. They also conducted crowd control to keep people trying from getting too close to the edge.
Dearing, who contacted The Press Democrat to report the incident and submit photos, said he and his wife are vacationing in California.
Staff writer Jamie Hansen contributed to this report.