Canadian filmmaker Rob Stewart went missing Tuesday night, 31 January 2017, after vanishing during a dive in the Florida Keys. Photo: Instagram

By Lauren Pelley
1 February 2017

(CBC News) – Toronto filmmaker and conservationist Rob Stewart is missing after a Tuesday night dive off the coast of Florida.

The U.S. Coast Guard is on the scene Wednesday morning to search for Stewart, who vanished while diving near Islamorada in the Florida Keys, a chain of islands between the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, located nearly 200 kilometres off the state's southern tip.

"We're in the critical window of daylight right after he's gone missing where, if we're going to find him on the surface — where we'd like to find him — it's going to be today," Stewart's sister, Alexandra Stewart, said in an emotional interview with CBC Toronto on Wednesday morning.

Stewart is best known for his 2006 documentary Sharkwater, an examination of global shark-hunting and its impact on the ocean ecosystem, and was active in underwater filming.

His sister said his latest dive was part of work on the film's upcoming sequel, Sharkwater: Extinction.

Jeremy Weaver, senior chief of the U.S. Coast Guard, told CBC Toronto that a helicopter from Miami, a boat and a team of divers are involved in this morning's search.

Weaver said Stewart was "diving on a wreck off of Islamorada" with three other divers when he went missing, but the three are safe.

Stewart "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," Weaver said.

It's not immediately clear what caused Stewart to go back under water, but his sister said it was a "particularly difficult" dive, going to a depth of nearly 70 metres. [more]

Sister of Canadian filmmaker Rob Stewart, missing after Florida dive, says time is 'critical'

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