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Actor and pro surfer Tamayo Perry killed in Hawaii shark attack

Tamayo Perry during a surf competition at Teahupoo, Tahiti, French Polynesia. Perry died this week from injuries sustained during a shark attack.
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Tamayo Perry during a surf competition at Teahupoo, Tahiti, French Polynesia. Perry died this week from injuries sustained during a shark attack.

Updated June 24, 2024 at 16:56 PM ET

Professional surfer and lifeguard Tamayo Perry died on Sunday after being attacked by a shark off the coast of Oahu.

Perry, who was also an actor and stuntman, was attacked in the early afternoon Sunday while surfing at Malaekahana Beach on Oahu’s North Shore. He was 49.

Perry was brought to shore by Jet Ski and pronounced dead on the scene, Honolulu Emergency Services Department spokeswoman Shayne Enright announced in a press conference.

“I ask for your kindness and your patience as we all just try to get through this next hour into these next weeks and months," Enright said.

Kurt Lager, acting chief of the ocean safety department, described Perry as a world-class surfer and “a lifeguard loved by all.”

“Tamayo’s personality was infectious,” Lager said. “And as much as people loved him, he loved everyone else more.”

Perry is survived by his wife of more than 20 years, Emilia Perry, with whom he ran a surf academy.

Following the news of his death, tributes to the Hawaii-born Perry poured across social media. 

In addition to his expertise in the water, Perry also made a mark in Hollywood, scoring roles in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and Hawaii Five-O.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi described Perry as a “legendary waterman” who grew up on the island.

While shark attacks are still statistically rare, there was an increase in both shark attacks and human fatalities in 2023, according to the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File (ISAF).

The ISAF found that last year, there were 69 unprovoked bites worldwide, 10 of which resulted in death.

The National Ocean Service says on its website that only about a dozen of more than 300 species of sharks have been involved in human attacks, usually when the shark is confused or curious.

One possible explanation for the increase in shark attacks, researchers say, is climate change.

Copyright 2024 NPR

Alana Wise is a politics reporter on the Washington desk at NPR.
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