Rob Stewart who went missing after a scuba dive off the coast of Florida was reportedly found dead by ROV assist to Key Largo Vol Fire Dept at a depth of 220 feet, according to a tweet by USCG (United States Coast Guards) Southeast, Friday evening. So far, the official cause of his death remains unknown.
Stewart’s family said that his body was “found peacefully in the ocean” while his sister Alexandra in a Facebook post requested privacy to allow the family to grieve.
“There are no words,” her FB post read, “We are so deeply grateful to everyone who helped search and happy that Rob passed while doing what he loved.”
Rob Stewart was in Florida filming Sharkwater: Extinction, the sequel to Sharkwater, which had earned him forty international awards including the Best Documentary and the Audience Favorite Award at the 2006 Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival and the People’s Choice Award at the 2006 Atlantic Film Festival.
On January 31, Stewart had gone scuba diving along with his dive partner to explore the sunken wreck of the Queen of Nassau which rests off the coast of Islamorada, Florida, at a depth of 235 feet.
When the diving duo resurfaced from the depths, Stewart’s partner fell unconscious soon after boarding the crew’s boat and Stewart suddenly and mysteriously vanished from the water just as the ship’s team rushed to his aid.
Stewart’s friend, Paul Watson, who is a marine wildlife conservation and an environmental activist, observed that Stewart was using a re-breather which could have caused him to lose consciousness, like his dive partner, while still in the water. Thereafter, a search was launched, and after three days his body was recovered from the aforementioned site.
Thirty-seven-year-old Stewart who was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, showed a penchant for underwater photography while still a teenager and became a scuba diving trainer at the young age of eighteen.
The holder of a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Western Ontario, he worked as the chief photographer for the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s magazine for four years and won several awards for his freelance journalism, as well. He had also studied zoology in Kenya and marine biology in Jamaica.
After finding out about the illegal longline fishing in the Galapagos Marine Reserve, Stewart decided that he would make the movie Sharkwater – he was twenty-two then. This led him to travel to fifteen countries for the next four years spending time filming sharks and even going undercover to expose the illegal shark fin business. Sharkwater witnessed great success and won many accolades and awards for Rob Stewart.
The massive response and appreciation that the film received encouraged him to launch a Kickstarter in 2016 for the purpose of funding the sequel Sharkwater: Extinction, an attempt to bring attention to the 80 million sharks being killed every year which remain unaccounted for by marine scientists. It was Sharkwater: Extinction he was working on when he met with his tragic and premature death.