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Toronto filmmaker Rob Stewart found dead: U.S. Coast Guard

Canadian documentary filmmaker and environmental activist Rob Stewart is seen on a boat off the coast of Florida before he went missing on January 31, 2017.

Handout via REUTERS

The U.S. Coast Guard has confirmed that the body of Toronto filmmaker Rob Stewart, missing since Tuesday, has been found.

According to a tweet released by the Coast Guard, a dive team from the Key Largo Volunteer Fire Dept reportedly found Mr. Stewart at a depth of about 60 metres of water off the Florida Keys.

The news came shortly after the announcement late Friday afternoon that the Coast Guard would be suspending its search at sunset. Mr. Stewart, the 37-year-old Toronto filmmaker and conservationist known for his 2006 documentary Sharkwater, disappeared while scuba diving near Alligator Reef, off Islamorada, Fla.

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The body was found approximately 90 metres from where Mr. Stewart had vanished. After the announcement, the filmmaker's sister, Alexandra Stewart, posted a note on her Facebook page: "Rob has been found, peacefully in the ocean. 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."

A medical examination is pending.

Mr. Stewart, in the area filming a sequel to Sharkwater, was with three other divers, all of whom are safe. According to Paul Watson, an environmental activist who founded the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Mr. Stewart was using underwater breathing gear known as a rebreather, which can be dangerous.

"It's likely that he passed out from the rebreather, and sank right where he was," said Mr. Watson, a Canadian who was involved in the search for his friend. The depth and underwater visibility would have been a problem in the search. "It's pretty dark down there," said Mr. Watson. "They probably would have had to use underwater cameras."

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Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More


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