THE body found at Blackhall rocks on Saturday is believed to be that of Durham School deputy headteacher Mark Bushnell
But police say formal identification is proving difficult and could take a number of days, due to the length of time the body has been in the water.
Mr Bushnell, 50, was reported missing by his wife Joanna on March 9, after he had been away from his Durham City home for several hours and she was unable to contact him.
He is the father of three boys, aged 17, 15, and 12, who all attend Durham School.
The area where the body was discovered by a dog walker has been the focus of an extensive sea and land search, which was stepped down a week ago.
Chief Inspector Andy Huddleston, who has been leading the search, said: “We are still in the process of formal identification procedures, but we do believe the body found on Saturday morning is that of Mark and his family and colleagues have been informed.
“There is thought to be no third party involvement in his death and a file is being prepared for the coroner.”
A post-mortem examination is due to take place today.