Stewart was a passionate environmentalist and experienced diver. He started shooting underwater photography at the age of 13, and became a certified scuba instructor at 18. At age 27, he premiered Sharkwater at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2006.
Stewart was filming a sequel to Sharkwater in Florida, but was separated from his crew earlier this week. A U.S. Coast Guard senior chief previously explained that he "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."
For the past three days, a team consisting of the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S navy, local police and fire department, Border Control, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and a crew of volunteers searched the area. The U.S. Coast Guard reported at 7 p.m. EST this evening that Stewart's body had been found at a depth of 220 feet.
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
"It's with a heavy heart that we share that Rob has been found peacefully in the ocean," said Victoria Gormley, a spokesperson for the Stewart family [via The Toronto Star]. "We are so deeply grateful to everyone who helped with the search and find comfort that Rob passed doing what he loved. We are working on how best to honour his incredible work and my family asks that everyone give us some private time to grieve."
Members of the arts, environmental and political communities have offered their condolences to Stewart on social media. See some of those messages below.
"Conservation is the preservation of life on earth, and that, above all else, is worth fighting for." - Rob Stewart pic.twitter.com/C8CcZ3BE2V— TIFF (@TIFF_NET) February 4, 2017
Not the news we were hoping/praying for. My heartfelt sympathies go out to family & friends of #RobStewart.— John Tory (@JohnTory) February 3, 2017