Underwater researcher Dr. Joseph Dituri set a new record for the longest time living underwater at ambient pressure at Jules’ Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Florida. He reached his 74th day on June 1, breaking the previous record of 73 days, two hours and 34 minutes set by Tennessee professors Bruce Cantrell and Jessica Fain in 2014 at the same location. Dituri plans to stay at the lodge until June 9, completing his underwater mission dubbed Project Neptune 100.
The Marine Resources Development Foundation, owner of the habitat, organized the project which comprises of medical and ocean research along with educational outreach. “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 explained. During his stay, Dituri conducts daily experiments in physiology to monitor how the human body responds to long-term exposure to extreme pressure.
In addition to his scientific research, Dituri conducts online classes and broadcast interviews from his digital studio beneath the sea, reaching over 2,500 students through online classes in marine science and more with his regular biomedical engineering courses at the University of South Florida. He believes the outreach portion of his mission is as important as his research.
Surprisingly, despite spending more than two months in the underwater environment, the thing that Dituri misses the most is the sun. He recalls missing sunrise and goes to the gym at five to workout and watch the sunrise, which he used to enjoy before embarking on his mission.
Dituri, a University of South Florida educator, is honored to have set the new record but states that the record is a small bump and there is still more science to be done. “I’m honored to have it, but we still have more science to do,” he explained. The mission has enabled Dituri to gain further insights into the world’s oceans, a subject close to his heart.
During his stay, Dituri consumed protein-heavy meals of eggs and salmon cooked in a microwave and exercised with resistance bands while maintaining his daily push-up routine. He also took an hour-long nap when required, ensuring that he remained in prime physical and mental condition for his underwater mission.