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Family confirms body of Rob Stewart found off Florida coast

Last Updated Feb 3, 2017 at 9:16 pm EDT

FILE - This Jan. 25, 2013 file photo shows Canadian filmmaker Rob Stewart at the Modern Master Award Ceremony at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in Santa Barbara, Calif. A search continues today for a Canadian filmmaker missing after a dive off the coast of Florida. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Richard Shotwell/Invision

The family of a Toronto filmmaker who went missing three days ago confirms his body was discovered in the ocean off the Florida coast late Friday afternoon.

Rob Stewart’s sister, Alexandra, said his body was found “peacefully in the ocean”, confirming an earlier U.S. Coast Guard report that a body had been found in 220 feet of water off the Florida Keys.

His death was also confirmed by a publicist for the director.

“There are no words. We are so deeply grateful to everyone who helped search, and happy that Rob passed while doing what he loved,” Stewart wrote in a Facebook post. “We are working on how best to honour his incredible work. My family asks that you give us some private time to grieve.”

The news came as Coast Guard officials were set to suspend the search efforts at sunset on Friday night.

The last time anyone saw Stewart, he had just returned to the surface Tuesday after a dive about 70 metres down near Alligator Reef in the Florida Keys.

Stewart was in Florida filming a follow up movie to his 2006 documentary “Sharkwater,” called “Sharkwater Extinction.”

He is also known for his documentaries that include “Revolution” and his memoir “Save the Humans.”

He devoted his career to warning the world about threats facing sharks, other ocean life and humanity in general.

His 2006 documentary “Sharkwater,” which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival, became an international hit and prompted people around the world to lobby their governments for bans on shark finning.

Stewart said he and his colleagues risked their lives to make the film: they visited a Costa Rican warehouse that trafficked in illegal shark fin and confronted poachers on the high seas.

“This century we’re facing some pretty catastrophic consequences of our actions,” he said in a 2012 interview with The Canadian Press.

“We’re facing a world by 2050 that has no fish, no reefs, no rainforest, and nine billion people on a planet that already can’t sustain seven billion people. So it’s going to be a really dramatic century unless we do something about it.”

Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report