UNITED STATES―Filmmaker and conservationist Rob Stewart who went missing during a dive off the coast of Florida on Tuesday, January 31 was found dead on Friday, February 3.
Stewart, 37, vanished while diving near Islamorada in the Florida Keys, a chain of islands between the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. He was retrieving an anchor when his dive partner collapsed after returning to the boat. Upon surfacing from the dive, Stewart had signaled to the rest of the boat he was okay, but later went missing as the boat circled back around for him. The U.S. Coast Guard was on scene Wednesday morning to search for Stewart.
At the time of the incident, the Canadian filmmaker was filming a new documentary called “Sharkwater: Extinction.” Stewart’s parents reported that he was aiming to show at the Toronto International Film Festival later this year.
His parents, along with his sister launched a GoFundMe campaign in order to bring in more resources to help with the search for Rob.
Stewart is best known for his 2006 film “Sharkwater,” a documentary on global shark-hunting and the impact it takes on the ocean’s ecosystem.
Jeremy Weaver, senior chief of the U.S. Coast Guard, told CBC Toronto that a helicopter from Miami, a boat with a team of divers were involved in Wednesday morning’s search.
Weaver said Stewart was “diving on a wreck off of Islamorada” with three other divers when he went missing, the other three are safe.
It’s not immediately clear what caused Stewart to go back under water, but it was reported by his sister that it was a “particularly difficult” dive.
The U.S. Navy, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Florida wildlife officials, a county sheriff’s office and civilian volunteers have joined the Coast Guard in the search for Stewart that is using ships, helicopters, airplanes and dive teams, the Coast Guard said.
On Friday, divers found Stewart’s body in a locationwhere he first went missing. It was confirmed by commander of U.S. Coast Guard Sector Key West, Capt. Jeffrey Janszen that a Key Largo Volunteer Fire Department dive team found Stewart just around 300 feet from his last known position.
Stewart’s family praised the Coast Guard and the other agencies involved for their efforts in the search of their son and brother.
Stewart was reported using rebreathing diving equipment instead of conventional compressed air scuba tanks, which a friend of Stewart’s, Tyler MacLeod, explained in an interview with Entertainment Tonight Canada is “a very complicated system.”
An email from colleagues of Stewart’s who are apart of the conservation group Sea Shepherd think Stewart passed out as well and floated off.