Coast Guard to suspend search for missing filmmaker off Florida Keys

Shark documentary director Rob Stewart missing off Florida

"The decision to suspend the search is very hard". "It is not met lightly".

Rob Stewart has been missing since Tuesday after diving in the Florida Keys to capture shark footage for his Sharkwater documentary series.

Senior Coast Guard Chief Nyx Cangemi said teams are trying to trace the Toronto wildlife photographer since his disappearance was reported to the authorities at approximately 5:15 pm on Tuesday.

"I'd like to thank all our federal, state and local partners for their resources, personnel and expertise that was necessary to conduct this comprehensive search", Capt. Janszen said.

The search has been by boat and by air and has covered some 6,000 square miles, officials said.

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The 37-year-old filmmaker from Toronto had been doing a dive of a depth of up to 220 feet, which few divers are experienced enough to do. If crews don't find Stewart by nightfall, the search will be suspended.

Stewart directed and starred in the 2006 documentary Sharkwater, in which he raised awareness and concerns about how the demonization of sharks has led them to be hunted to near extinction, and how their decimation is leading to a collapse of ocean food chains.

A U.S. Coast Guard vessel searched through the night on Thursday for Stewart and an aerial search was conducted with the assistance of a U.S. Navy helicopter today.

The U.S. Coast Guard said Friday afternoon that it has searched a 5,500-square-mile area of the ocean - a stretch of water about the size of CT - with no sign of the missing diver.

"But [as] part of our search patterns we factor in the athletic ability and experience in the water of the missing person, as well as the equipment they have with them", he said.

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