A body believed to be that of Thomas Casey GRD ’05 was found by an area resident Monday near a beach in Branford, East Haven police said.

Casey, a Yale graduate student in political science, had been missing since Nov. 8, after he went kayaking on Long Island Sound in rough weather. Casey, 35, was a teaching assistant for Pauline Jones Luong’s class, “Politics of Identity.”

Casey, whom friends described as an avid kayaker, was reported missing by his girlfriend, prompting a massive search by local and state officials and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Authorities will use dental records to confirm the identity of the body and the cause of death, East Haven police said.

An area resident found Casey’s empty kayak the night of Nov. 8, and searchers found his paddle and backpack Nov. 9, the Associated Press reported.

The Coast Guard, which began searching for Casey that evening, suspended its search the next day, Coast Guard Lt. Brian Lefebvre said.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Scott Steinbarger said there was a small-craft advisory warning in effect on Nov. 8.

“[The conditions] were rough,” Steinbarger said. “It depends on the ability of the kayaker. The water was pretty choppy.”

Sgt. J. Paul Vance, a state police spokesman, said state police used sidescan sonar to search the bottom of the ocean floor.

Political Science Chairman Ian Shapiro and Director of Graduate Studies Frances Rosenbluth sent an e-mail to their colleagues when Casey was first reported missing, expressing their sadness about the accident.

“Tom was much beloved in the Department, and we will remember him fondly for his endless good cheer and for his efforts to contribute to the social glue during his three and a half years at Yale,” the e-mail said. “Our hearts go out to his family and to his loved ones. We will want to think collectively about an appropriate tribute.”

Luong described Casey as well-loved by his students.

“He has a following among the undergraduates because he is a very devoted teacher,” Luong said.