Reporting from Oceanside — About 150 family members, friends and surf enthusiasts gathered here Thursday for what was called a celebration of the life of Lucas Ransom, the UC Santa Barbara student killed by a shark last week.
Some wore T-shirts with the slogan "Ask me about Luke." Several dozen paddled into the ocean to drop flowers and say prayers for the 19-year-old.
Others released green balloons, which carried messages of love and support.
"He was the platonic ideal — he just happened to be here in form," said his cousin Bob Brigham, 32, an Internet consultant from Chico.
A contingent of students from UC Santa Barbara attended the memorial.
"Everyone is more aware now about how they live their life, that it can end at any point," said Hannah Meade, 20.
"The water just south of the Oceanside Pier was selected for the memorial because the Ransom family considered it their home break," said Lucas' brother, Travis. "This is where we had some of our best times."
Ransom, who grew up in the Riverside County community of Romoland and attended Perris High School, was enjoying the waves of Surf Beach west of Lompoc Friday morning when he was attacked by a great white shark.
The shark, thought to be 18 to 20 feet long, bit through Ransom's wetsuit, severing his left leg at the pelvis and gouging a section of his body board.
Ransom's longtime friend Matthew Garcia said there was no warning. Garcia tried to give Ransom chest compressions to save his life, but he died before they reached shore, as the water around them turned red from blood.
The young men were about 100 yards offshore when the attack occurred, witnesses told authorities. Fire personnel from Vandenberg Air Force Base pronounced Ransom dead at the scene.
There have been at least 11 other fatal shark attacks along the California coast since 1950, shark experts said.
In memory of Lucas, the Ransom family asks for donations to one of three organizations: a scholarship fund for chemistry and engineering students at UC Santa Barbara, the World Maccabi Swimming Games and the Shark Education and Awareness Foundation.