Body found off Florida coast thought to be missing Canadian filmmaker

Feb 3 (Reuters) - A Florida dive team found a submerged body thought to be Rob Stewart, a Canadian filmmaker and environmental activist who went missing after a deepwater dive off the southern Florida coast, a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman.

A Key Largo volunteer fire and rescue dive team found the body at a depth of 220 feet (67 meters) near where Stewart went missing off the Florida Keys.

Final identification by the local medical examiner was pending, said Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Eric Woodall, a spokesman.

Stewart, 37, went missing on Tuesday after a deepwater dive to retrieve an anchor. His dive partner collapsed after returning to the boat, while Stewart, who signaled he was OK when he surfaced, later disappeared, Stewart's parents said.

12 PHOTOS
Canadian filmmaker Rob Stewart
See Gallery
Canadian filmmaker Rob Stewart

Director Rob Stewart, winner of the 'Fund for Santa Barbara Social Justice Award for Documentary Film' attends the 28th Santa Barbara International Film Festival Awards Breakfast on February 3, 2013 in Santa Barbara, California.

(Photo by Rebecca Sapp/WireImage)

Filmmakers Rob Stewart and Jeff Orlowski pose for a photo at The Ocean Gala on December 3, 2016 in San Francisco, California.

(Photo by Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for The Ocean Gala)

Rob Stewart attending the 2013 Tiff Film Festival Gala Red Carpet Premiere for Third Person at the Visa Screening Room on September 9, 2013 in Toronto, Canada.

(Photo by Walter McBride/Corbis via Getty Images)

Director Rob Stewart attends the Variety Studio at Chivas House on May 17, 2013 in Cannes, France.

(Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Variety)

Filmmaker Rob Stewart and Anouk Baijings arrives at 'Revolution' Canadian Premiere at Scotia Bank Theatre on April 11, 2013 in Toronto, Canada.

(Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)

Director Rob Stewart attends the Modern Master Award presented To Ben Affleck at the 28th Santa Barbara International Film Festival on January 25, 2013 in Santa Barbara, California.

(Photo by Rebecca Sapp/WireImage)

Director Rob Stewart attends the Variety Studio at Chivas House on May 17, 2013 in Cannes, France.

(Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Variety)

SBIFF programmer Michael Albright and Director Rob Stewart, winner of the 'Fund for Santa Barbara Social Justice Award for Documentary Film' attends the 28th Santa Barbara International Film Festival Awards Breakfast on February 3, 2013 in Santa Barbara, California.

(Photo by Ray Mickshaw/WireImage)

Director of the film 'Revolution' Rob Stewart attends the 28th Santa Barbara International Film Festival on January 28, 2013 in Santa Barbara, California.

(Photo by Rebecca Sapp/WireImage)

Filmmaker Rob Stewart arrives at the Entertainment One Celebrates 29 Films At TIFF during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at The Roundhouse on September 9, 2013 in Toronto, Canada.

(Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

Director Rob Stewart and director Gus Van Sant attend the 28th Santa Barbara International Film Festival Montecito Award on January 26, 2013 in Santa Barbara, California.

(Photo by Ray Mickshaw/WireImage)

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The announcement of the body being found came about an hour after the Coast Guard said it was suspending its search for Stewart.

The U.S. Navy, Customs and Border Protection, Florida wildlife officials, a county sheriff's office and civilian volunteers had joined the Coast Guard in the search, which covered an area about the size of Connecticut. Ships, helicopters, airplanes, dive teams and sonar equipment were deployed in the effort, the Coast Guard said.

Stewart's 2006 documentary "Sharkwater" was aimed at exposing the shark hunting industry that was feeding demand for fins, a delicacy in Chinese cuisine. The hunting has ravaged shark populations and the film was part of a campaign that helped persuade some governments to crack down on "finning."

With finning, typically the fins are cut off and the live shark is tossed back into the sea. Unable to swim properly, the shark suffocates or is killed by predators.

Stewart said his new film was looking at the other ways in which as many as 80 million sharks were being harvested each year for items ranging from cosmetics to pet food.

"Sharks are sophisticated, intelligent and often shy creatures that aren't interested in eating humans," he said in a video seeking funding for the new movie.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz, editing by G Crosse)


Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.