Actor Tamayo Perry Had Eerie Warning About ‘Sharky’ Spot Before Fatal Attack

Steve Robertson/ Getty
Steve Robertson/ Getty

Tamayo Perry always had a cautious fascination with sharks.

A professional surfer and lifeguard who grew up on the beaches of Oahu, Hawaii—and whose talent and local celebrity yielded appearances in Pirates of the Caribbean and Blue Crush—he often posted online about sharks and shark attacks.

In July 2015, he mused on Facebook about the infamous moment surfer Mick Fanning was attacked by two sharks in South Africa. He described it as a “great indication” that Jesus’ mercy is “more then [sic] sufficient” before noting that scientists are unsure if sharks can identify color and that the apex predator cannot swim backyards.

“Regardless, sharks freak me out and I'm glad the Good Lord had Mick's back today,” Perry wrote. “Only the Lord can say when it's your time.”

In another online post, Perry, 49, described himself as a “Jaws Fan.” In a third post, Perry even admitted he could sense when sharks were around while he was surfing. One friend even told The Daily Beast that after spending almost every day surfing in a northeast Oahu spot known for sharks, Perry “always alluded to the fact that he has seen them and felt their presence.”

“Can people smell sharks around??? I don’t know if it’s my imagination but I swear I can smell when they’re around,” Perry wrote in a June 2019 Facebook post.

Perry’s online musings about sharks now appear both prophetic and harrowing after his tragic death on Sunday from a shark attack. Authorities say he was attacked in the oft-frequented northeast Oahu surfing spot near Goat Island, and was brought ashore on Malaekahana Beach by rescuers just before 1 p.m.

He appeared to have multiple shark bites, though the type of shark that attacked him is still unclear, authorities said. According to Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources, Perry’s death was one of four shark incidents in the state this year and while most of the local shark attacks involve surfers, only a small percentage are fatal.

The attack sent shockwaves throughout the surfing community, who remember Perry as a beloved friend, actor, and athlete.

Perry was “humble” and always a joy to have around, said Matt Paul, a professional photographer who described the surfer as one of the “nicest guys ever” whom he was lucky to call a friend for more than a decade.

“He would always say hello and took the time to know everyone’s name,” Paul said. “He was a friendly, jolly soul who was always ready to surf and help others out. He always wanted to collaborate with photographers.”

Paul said that he joined Perry several times at the northeast Oahu surfing spot where Perry surfer was found dead, describing it as infamously “sharky” and a “spot where guys go since there are no waves in the North Shore in the summer.”

“Everyone thinks and talks about sharks when they go out in that spot,” he said. “One time, I was about to paddle out there and Tamayo made a friendly funny comment like, ‘Oh it’s sharky out there, be careful.’”

He said that while Perry’s death is a tragic loss, he is taking solace in the fact that the surfer died doing his favorite activity.

“Even though it’s a horrible way to go, he went doing what he loves,” he added. “It feels very ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ when I think about it.”

Perry jumped onto the pro surfing scene in 1999, when he won the Pipe Masters Trials, and continued competing for 15 years. After surviving a near-fatal head injury after being hit by a rogue surfboard, Perry dedicated a portion of Oahu Surf Experience, the surf school he ran with his wife, to safe surfing practices and etiquette.

In 2016, Perry became a lifeguard on the North Shore and the County of Honolulu Ocean Safety. His success yielded many acting gigs, including starring in an episode of Hawaii Five-0 and a role in the film, The Big Bounce.

“Tamayo Perry, an eight-year veteran of Ocean Safety and well-known North Shore waterman, exemplified bravery, commitment, and a deep sense of duty, serving our community with unwavering dedication,” Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said in a Monday statement. “His heroic actions and tireless efforts to ensure the safety of our residents and visitors will never be forgotten.”

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