(February 3, 2017 – Toronto, ON) The body of Toronto-born diver, environmentalist and filmmaker Rob Stewart has been found, according to a report from the United States Coast Guard. His body was found at a depth of 220 feet off the Florida Keys. The announcement came in a Tweet.
The news came only a couple of hours after the Coast Guard had announced it was calling off the search for Stewart who had slipped beneath the waves following what had been thought a successful dive on Tuesday of this week. Stewart disappeared around 5:15pm on Tuesday near Alligator Reef, about four nautical miles southeast of Islamorada. He had made it to the surface following his third deep dive near the Queen of Nassau shipwreck. He had been filming for a new feature-length movie about his favourite subject, sharks, and the threat they are under from over fishing and environmental change.
It had been reported that he had given an “OK” sign after surfacing, but when one of his diving companions appeared to be in trouble and fell unconscious, attention focused away from Stewart. When people looked back to make sure he was indeed okay he was nowhere to be seen in a vast and otherwise empty part of the water surrounding the Florida Keys.
Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Rob Stewart began photographing underwater when he was 13. By the age of 18 he became a scuba instructor trainer and then moved on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, studying in Ontario, Jamaica and Kenya.
Before making Sharkwater (2007), Stewart spent four years travelling the world as chief photographer for the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s magazines. Leading expeditions to the most remote areas of the world, Stewart’s highly sought after images have appeared in nearly every media form worldwide.
While on assignment to photograph sharks in the Galapagos Islands, Stewart discovered illegal longlining, killing sharks within the marine reserve. He tried promoting awareness through print media, but when the public didn’t respond, Stewart decided to make a film to bring people closer to sharks. At the age of 22 he left his photography career behind and embarked on a remarkable journey over four years and 12 countries, resulting in the epic Sharkwater.
The film was released by Alliance Atlantis, Warner Bros., Disney and MK2 – and has been hugely successful, premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival and winning a “Canada’s Top Ten” award. Sharkwater made history with the largest opening weekend of any Canadian documentary, and was the most award-winning documentary of the year, winning over 40 awards at prestigious film festivals around the world. It is credited as being the genesis for the shark conservation movement, changing government policy worldwide, and inspiring the creation of shark conservation groups.
Stewart’s second film Revolution brought the “evolution of life and the revolution to save us” to the public, was the highest grossing Canadian documentary in 2013, was released by D films, and won 19 awards at film festival all around the world. The film Stewart was working on when he died had been titled Sharkwater: Extinction.
Rob Stewart was 37-years-old.
(February 7, 2017) A funeral for filmmaker Rob Stewart will be held in Toronto on February 18. Stewart’s family said in a news release that the funeral and celebration of life will be open to “everyone who loved Rob.” More details will be released at a later date.