What happened to Michael Dornellas? Freediver famed for Shark Week

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What happened to Michael Dornellas? Freediver famed for Shark Week

Michael Dornellas was synonymous with Shark Week. As Shark Week draws to an end in 2022, fans want to know more about what happened to him.

Michael spent his life appreciating the ocean and dealt with many struggles including being homeless and battling addiction.

Speaking in footage he captured himself at the age of 33, Michael said that he had one goal in life and that was “to be happy”. He didn’t care how he found it and wanted to make his family proud.

Judging by the footage he left behind and his achievements as a freediver, it’s safe to say that Michael definitely made his family proud and had many fans in awe of his work.

Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Who was Michael Dornellas?

Michael Dornellas described himself as a “freediver” and “ocean lover” when speaking to Discovery Canada in 2017.

At 33 years old, he said that he was also a “freediving filmmaker” in his own footage. In a compilation video of Michael’s footage, created by Tinho Dornellas, Michael said that he was born and raised in Cocoa Beach, Florida by “watermen”.

He was born in 1985. His grandfather and father were both spearfishermen and freedivers.

As per Thrillist, Michael mastered diving with tiger and bull sharks.

What happened to Michael?

In a recording captured by Michael himself, at the age of 33, he said that he embarked on a new life after checking himself into rehab four years prior.

Michael said: “I’m a recovering drug addict and alcoholic”.

In a Celebration of Life compilation video of Michael’s work, put together by Tinho Dornellas, the caption reads: “…the hope is that you get a glimpse of the genius of this gentle soul, who lost the battle against the drug addiction demons…”

He passed away at the age of 36 on May 17, 2021. No cause of death was published publicly.

Michael Dornellas’ Shark Week legacy

Adventurer Forrest Galante was one of Michael Dornellas’ many friends. On June 30th, Forrest wrote in a Facebook tribute to Michael.

He wrote: “…The man himself was more shark than human.

“I always absolutely loved working (and playing) with Mike. So while he is gone from our world, he will live on forever in our hearts and memories. More than just memories, I had the privilege of working with Mike, on his very last shoot ever, just 10 days before his passing.

“Multiple times he told me and @johnny_harrington_ and @mitchelljlong how it was the best shoot he had ever been on, how he had never seen marine life like it, how he couldn’t wait to get back in the water…”.

Many of Michael’s fans have taken to his social media pages including Facebook and Instagram to share their condolences for his loss and show their appreciation for his work.

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