Professor's Underwater Stay Sets Record

Joseph Dituri is teaching classes from Jules' Undersea Lodge
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 14, 2023 3:10 PM CDT
Professor Sets Underwater Mark but Has 'More Science to Do'
Joseph Dituri, right, waves to scuba diver Thane Milhoan on Saturday while in Jules' Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Florida.   (Frazier Nivens/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)

A university professor broke a record for the longest time living underwater without depressurization this weekend at a Florida Keys lodge for scuba divers. Joseph Dituri's 74th day residing in Jules' Undersea Lodge, situated at the bottom of a 30-foot-deep lagoon in Key Largo, wasn't much different than his previous days there since he submerged March 1. Dituri, who goes by the moniker "Dr. Deep Sea," ate a protein-heavy meal of eggs and salmon prepared using a microwave, exercised with resistance bands, did his daily pushups and took an hourlong nap. Unlike a submarine, the lodge does not use technology to adjust for the increased underwater pressure, the AP reports.

The previous record of 73 days, two hours, 34 minutes was set by two Tennessee professors—Bruce Cantrell and Jessica Fain—at the same location in 2014. But Dituri isn't just settling for the record and resurfacing: He plans to stay at the lodge until June 9, when he reaches 100 days and completes an underwater mission dubbed Project Neptune 100. The mission combines medical and ocean research with educational outreach and was organized by the Marine Resources Development Foundation, owner of the habitat. "The record is a small bump, and I really appreciate it," said Dituri, a University of South Florida educator who holds a doctorate in biomedical engineering and is a retired Navy officer. "I'm honored to have it, but we still have more science to do."

His research includes daily experiments in physiology to monitor how the human body responds to long-term exposure to extreme pressure. "The idea here is to populate the world’s oceans, to take care of them by living in them and really treating them well," Dituri said. The outreach portion of Dituri's mission includes conducting online classes and broadcast interviews from his digital studio beneath the sea. During the past 74 days, he has reached over 2,500 students through online classes in marine science and more with his regular biomedical engineering courses at the University of South Florida. While he says he loves living under the ocean, there is one thing he really misses: the sun.

(More scientific research stories.)

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