Woman's body found on the beach near Morro Rock

The identity of a woman found dead on the beach north of the parking lot at Morro Rock remained a mystery late Tuesday.

Police said an off-duty Harbor Patrol employee found the body around 6:30 a.m. while walking in the area. Officers say the body was on the sand and not in the water. The area was blocked off, but reopened around 8:30 a.m.

Police said they can not release the woman’s name until they are able to positively identify her and notify the next of kin. Police did not say if there were signs of foul play, identification on the body or any reports of a missing person with a description fitting that of the body.

An autopsy will be performed Thursday by the Coroner’s Office.

Meanwhile, hours later at Morro Rock, members of the Salinan Indian tribe gathered and prepared to ascend the landmark formation. The hike up the Rock is part of the Salinans’ winter solstice ceremony to welcome the changing of the season. Winter began Tuesday.