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Shark in fatal attack identified as a great white

October 25, 2010 |  6:31 pm

After conferring with a shark expert, Santa Barbara County coroner's officials today identified the shark that killed 19-year-old college student Lucas Ransom as a great white.

Ralph Collier, president of the Shark Research Committee, determined that the UC Santa Barbara junior was killed by a great white shark measuring 17 to 18 feet long and weighing 4,000 pounds. Ransom was attacked as he surfed with a friend Friday on a beach near Lompoc.

Collier's finding is based on witness accounts, Ransom's wound and a gaping, foot-wide bite mark left in his bodyboard, coroner's officials said. Authorities also said that they had recovered fragments of a shark's tooth.

Collier is a well-known shark expert and author of "Shark Attacks of the 20th Century." He said there have been only 12 authenticated fatal shark attacks along the West Coast since the 1950s.

Ransom's family is planning a memorial and paddle-out to the ocean Thursday to honor their son.

-- Catherine Saillant