Sharkwater: Extinction

2018 / Rob Stewart / 88 minutes

Humans kill an estimated 100 million sharks every year. Sharkwater: Extinction—the second shark documentary directed and written by the late Rob Stewart—seeks to expose practices that contribute to the cruel and unsustainable slaughter of the world’s sharks.

Stewart takes the viewer to Costa Rica, The Bahamas, Panama, and the US cities of Los Angeles, Miami, and Key Largo to show the main causes of shark population decline: shark finning, illegal fishing, and gillnets. The film reveals how lax enforcement, high demand, financial incentives, misinformation, and a mafia-like syndicate are enabling the illegal shark-fishing industry to flourish nearly unchecked. 

The film crew collected cosmetics, pet food, fresh and canned seafood, fast food, and groceries in Miami to search for shark DNA. They found it in 30 percent of the pet food tested, as well as in many beauty products, fertilizer, and livestock feed. 

The filmmaker’s commitment to animal welfare is on display throughout the film. Stewart is extremely cautious and respectful of sharks and their habitats and tries to approach each situation with a shark’s perspective in mind. He seeks to reverse media narratives that inspire a relentless fear of sharks and to help viewers fall in love with the animals. 

Rob Stewart was a lifelong, tireless animal advocate whose life was tragically cut short during a diving incident while filming this documentary. He died pursuing his passions, but his work continues to raise awareness of the decimation of global shark populations.