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Remembering Tamayo Perry: Surfer, Lifeguard, and Oceanic Legacy

Tamayo Perry, a revered surfer and occasional actor, tragically lost his life in a shark attack off Oahu, Hawaii, authorities confirmed. Perry, 49, was also a dedicated lifeguard with the City and County of Honolulu Ocean Safety.

The incident occurred while Perry was surfing near Goat Island on a Sunday afternoon, as reported by Shayne Enright from the Honolulu Emergency Services Department during a streamed news conference by Hawaii News Now.

Emergency response teams from Honolulu Ocean Safety, along with fire, police, and medical services, rushed to Mālaekahana Beach on Oahu’s North Shore following a distress call just before 1 p.m. Enright stated that witnesses had observed Perry suffering shark bites, resulting in fatal injuries.

Lifeguards swiftly brought Perry to shore using a jet ski, where paramedics unfortunately confirmed his passing, Enright added.

Having joined the Ocean Safety department in July 2016, Perry was well-regarded for his role as a lifeguard on the North Shore, according to Enright. Following the attack, Ocean Safety personnel issued shark warnings in the area.

Speaking at the news conference, Honolulu Ocean Safety Acting Chief Kurt Lager fondly remembered Perry as a universally beloved lifeguard and a renowned global surfer. “Tamayo’s infectious personality endeared him to many, reflecting his deep love for others,” Lager remarked.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi joined in mourning Perry’s passing, recognizing him as a “legendary waterman” who commanded immense respect within the community.

Perry’s career gained prominence in the early 2000s for his exceptional surfing skills, particularly in free surfing the North Shore pipeline, as reported by Surfer Magazine. He ventured into acting, appearing in notable films like “Blue Crush” (2002) and “Pirates of the Caribbean” (2011), along with a guest role in “Hawaii Five-O” (2011).

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John Sullivan, a colleague from “Hawaii Five-O,” described Perry as Oahu’s “nicest guy,” emphasizing his positive influence and widespread popularity.

The International Shark Attack File documented a doubling of fatal shark attacks in 2023 compared to the previous year, with Hawaii experiencing one of two such incidents in the United States.

Together with his wife, Emilia, Perry operated Oahu Surfing Experience, sharing their extensive surfing expertise. His biography on their website highlighted over 15 years of professional surfing, including his triumph at the 1999 Pipeline Master trials.

Known for tackling the challenging waves of Oahu’s North Shore, Perry’s passion for surfing transcended competition, focusing instead on capturing monumental waves and documenting his adventures.

Reflecting on a near-fatal surfing incident at Pipeline, Perry dedicated himself to instilling surf etiquette and safety through teaching, as stated on his website.

Emilia Perry, a former professional bodyboarder from Australia, fondly recalled their journey from meeting at Pipeline to marrying and embracing a life intertwined with the ocean.

Tamayo Perry leaves behind a lasting legacy as a revered surfer, lifeguard, and mentor, deeply mourned by the surfing community and beyond. His impact on surfing culture and safety advocacy will endure as a testament to his passion and dedication.

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