Hawaii Surfing Legend Tamayo Perry Dies in Shark Attack Off Oahu’s North Shore


In the rolling waves off Oahu’s North Shore, a renowned Hawaii lifeguard and former professional surfer met a tragic end. While surfing near Goat Island last Sunday, Tamayo Perry was killed in a shark attack. Named for his role in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie series, Perry was much more than just a gifted actor; he was a recognized figure in the global surfing community.

Perry, aged 49, was not only a seasoned surfer but also a distinguished actor with several credits to his name. However, he was best known in the world of surfing, where he executed his skills on the mighty waves with unmatched finesse. Whether Perry was the first professional surfer to fall prey to a shark attack remains a question unanswered, as according to Brendan Buckley, the editor of Stab Magazine, the concept of professionalism in surfing can be somewhat undefined.

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Buckley maintained that among the eminent surfers known and respected worldwide, Perry’s unfortunate fate was a first. He shared this information from his office in Portugal, expressing deep regret over the loss of a prominent figure in the surfing sphere. Perry and his wife, Emilia, ran the Oahu Surfing Experience, a venture that provided surfing lessons to enthusiasts.

His biography, outlined on his venture’s site, details a more than 15-year-long professional surfing career, his ultimate triumph being winning the Pipeline Master trials in 1999. Surfing the lethal waves of the Pipeline off Oahu’s North Shore, famous for creating a surfer’s dream tube, Perry’s prowess turned it into his specialty. His hunger for great waves, not titles, set him apart from the competition.

Perry was known for his knack for seeking the biggest, most daunting waves and conquering them while imprinting an unforgettable image of his surfing days. Buckley referred to him as one of the top surfers of his time, uttering praises for the awe-inspiring waves Perry tamed during his era. His impeccable skills and fearlessly adventurous nature won him respect from everyone in the surfing community worldwide.

His website revealed a near-death encounter Perry experienced while surfing the Pipeline. The life-altering incident influenced him deeply, leading him to vow to instill proper surfing etiquette and safety measures into everyone he mentored.

Emilia, his beloved wife, found her calling as a professional bodyboarder in Western Australia before eventually settling down in Hawaii at 18. Their paths crossed when Emilia was heading towards a Pipeline wave on her bodyboard. They tied the knot soon after, Emilia sharing how the vast oceanic knowledge Tamayo imparted to her was invaluable.

Tamayo began serving as a lifeguard for the City and County of Honolulu Ocean Safety on the North Shore in July 2016. Besides his passion for the sea, Perry also had a flair for acting. According to www.imdb.com, he portrayed a buccaneer in “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” in 2011 and appeared in an episode of “Hawaii Five-0” that same year, among several national commercial appearances.

Perry’s remarkable persona extended off-screen as well, as described by the photographer Brian Bielmann, who enjoyed a 25-year-long professional relationship with Perry. Reminiscing about a memorable night about five months prior, Bielmann recalled the deep bonding shared among Perry and his friends that left a profound impact on everyone present that night. The tragic news of Perry’s sudden demise sent shockwaves throughout their group.

The ill-fated incident took place at Malaekahana Beach on Oahu’s North Shore just before 1 p.m. Sunday when beachgoers reported seeing a man who had suffered apparent shark bites. Lifeguards rushed to bring Perry ashore; however, he was pronounced dead on arrival.

In the aftermath of the horrifying shark attack, Ocean Safety personnel posted warnings in the vicinity. Kurt Lager, Honolulu Ocean Safety Acting Chief, described Perry as a lifeguard adored by all, his vivacious personality an infectious positive force. He stated that Perry’s love for people was boundless, reflecting on the reciprocal admiration he garnered.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi referred to Perry as a legendary waterman and paid tribute to his tremendous respect in the local community. He expressed profound sorrow over Perry’s death in his statement, calling it a tragic loss for the entire community. The gruesome incident marked the most recent fatal shark attack in Hawaii, following one on Dec. 30, when a male surfer was attacked off Maui’s shore.