Filmmaker Rob Stewart passed away recently after complications during a dive off the Florida Keys. Exact details of Stewart’s death are still unknown and will likely remain so, but it’s clear that this particular dive was especially perilous due to its depth. Despite his extensive diving experience, this was the deepest dive of Stewart’s life. His diving companion blacked out shortly after reaching the dive boat, and the same may have happened to Stewart after he had briefly surfaced. His body was found several days later.
For those unfamiliar with Stewart, his 2006 documentary Sharkwater remains a striking glimpse into the world of sharks and how this apex predator has gone from hunter to hunted thanks to the carelessness and fear of mankind. Brilliantly shot with stunning underwater scenes, Sharkwater provides both entertainment and information in a carefully crafted package that can appeal even to those unfamiliar to the plight of the shark.
A shark enthusiast, Stewart set out to make a film that uncovered the dark side of shark finning. The shark finning industry exists largely to fill the demand for shark fin soup. A delicacy in certain Asian countries, shark fin soup is traditionally consumed at banquets, weddings, and other special events. No part of the animal is actually consumed in the soup, as the fin merely adds texture and a perceived prestige to a broth often flavored with chicken. The fin that gives the soup its name is little more than a status symbol, yet millions of sharks are killed for this dish every year.