Body of Canadian diver found, 'peacefully in the ocean'
Friday, February 3, 2017, 7:26 PM - The body of 37-year-old Canadian filmmaker Rob Stewart has been found at a depth of 220 ft off the coast of the Florida Keys, according to the U.S. Coast Guard Southeast.
Officials tweeted Friday evening that the body was found by a remotely operated underwater vehicle used by the Key Largo Volunteer Fire Department.
A brief written statement was posted by Stewart's sister Alexandra on Facebook Friday evening.
"Rob has been found, peacefully in the ocean," she posted. "There are no words. We are so deeply grateful to everyone who helped search, and happy that Rob passed while doing what he loved. We are working on how best to honour his incredible work. My family asks that you give us some private time to grieve. Thank you everyone."
The 37-year-old went missing Tuesday while diving off Islamorada in the Florida Keys with three others. Thirteen volunteer aircraft and 20 volunteer boats were part of the search, as well as multiple dive teams, CBC reports.
- The body of Toronto filmmaker and conservationist Rob Stewart has been reportedly found. He went missing Tuesday from a dive boat located off the coast of Islamorada, Florida.
- Over $188,000 raised as of 7 p.m. Friday for Stewart's GoFundMe page.
- Stewart is best known for his 2006 documentary Sharkwater, as well as his film Revolution.
- His last dive was part of the upcoming sequel Sharkwater: Extinction.
- He worked as chief photographer for Canadian Wildlife magazine for several years.
Body of diver Mr Stewart reportedly found @ depth of 220 ft by ROV assist to Key Largo Vol Fire Dept.— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) February 4, 2017
A couple hours prior to the announcement, spokesperson for U.S. Coast Guard Jeffrey Janszen told media that the search for Stewart would be suspended at sunset Friday.
"The decision to suspend the search is very difficult, it's not made lightly," Jaffrey Janszen, Commander of Coast Guard Sector Key West said during the conference in Islamorada, Fla. "Our hearts go out to Mr. Stewart's family, especially his parents Brian and Sandy who I met with earlier today."
According to the U.S. Coast Guard Southeast, a 5,500 square-mile area was thoroughly searched.
"This is basically the size of the state of Connecticut," said Janszen. "We have saturated the area and are confident we have done everything we can."
Stewart was last seen on Tuesday wearing a dark dry suit and a rebreather device. It's estimated the diver was carrying about 14 pounds of equipment on him.
Most professional divers typically only go to a depth of 150 ft, whereas Stewart was diving at a depth of around 220 ft, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Coast Guard official Jeremy Weaver told CBC News earlier this week that Stewart was diving with three others, and that the film maker "resurfaced at the end of the dive, and as the boat was turning around to pick him up, he went back under — and was not seen again."
The family had set up a GoFundMe account to help finance the search efforts and to help address the global slaughter of sharks. The page raised over $188,000 of 7 p.m. Friday, with a $280,000 goal.
Stewart's sister Alexandra told media it was a "particularly difficult" dive, going to a depth of nearly 70 metres.
"The other fellow who was on the same final dive appears to have lost consciousness when he surfaced, so it might have been too much diving in a certain window. It's hard to speculate," she told CBC News Wednesday.
Stewart's sister told CBC this last dive was part of the production for the upcoming film, which is a follow up to Stewart's 2006 documentary Sharkwater, which looked at the impact of global shark hunting, the shark fin trade and how it impacts the ocean eco-system. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and went on to win dozens of awards.
Another film of his, 2013's Revolution, also went on to win several awards.
The conservationist was an avid underwater photographer and had been diving since the age of 18, proficient enough to train others, according to the Associated Press.
WATCH BELOW: Interview with sister of Canadian filmmaker, Rob Stewart