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Florida's 'Dr. Deep' resurfaces after a record 100 days living underwater

Florida's 'Dr. Deep' resurfaces after a record 100 days living underwater
Florida's 'Dr. Deep' resurfaces after a record 100 days living underwater 00:45

A university professor who spent 100 days living underwater at a Florida Keys lodge for scuba divers resurfaced Friday and raised his face to the sun for the first time since March 1.

Dr. Joseph Dituri set a new record for the longest time living underwater without depressurization during his stay at Jules' Undersea Lodge, submerged beneath 30 feet (9.14 meters) of water in a Key Largo lagoon.

The diving explorer and medical researcher shattered the previous mark of 73 days, two hours and 34 minutes set by two Tennessee professors at the same lodge in 2014.

Dituri, who also goes by the moniker "Dr. Deep Sea," is a University of South Florida educator who holds a doctorate in biomedical engineering and is a retired U.S. Naval officer.

Florida Underwater Record
In this photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, diving explorer and medical researcher Dr. Joseph Dituri points to his watch Friday, June 9, 2023, indicating that it is time to surface after spending 100 days in the Jules' Undersea Lodge marine habitat at the bottom of a Key Largo, Fla., lagoon. Mariano Lorde / AP

Guinness World Records listed Dituri as the record holder on its website after his 74th day underwater last month. The Marine Resources Development Foundation, which owns the lodge, will ask Guinness to certify Dituri's 100-day mark, according to foundation head Ian Koblick.

"It was never about the record," Dituri said. "It was about extending human tolerance for the underwater world and for an isolated, confined, extreme environment."

Dituri's undertaking, dubbed Project Neptune 100, was organized by the foundation. Unlike a submarine, which uses technology to keep the inside pressure about the same as at the surface, the lodge's interior is set to match the higher pressure found underwater.

The project aimed to learn more about how the human body and mind respond to extended exposure to extreme pressure and an isolated environment and was designed to benefit ocean researchers and astronauts on future long-term missions.

Diving explorer and medical researcher Joseph Dituri conducts a research and sets a record inside the Jules' Undersea Lodge, in a Key Largo lagoon, FL
Diving explorer and medical researcher Dr. Joseph Dituri peers out of a large porthole inside the Jules' Undersea Lodge, in a Key Largo lagoon, Florida Keys, Florida, U.S., May 13, 2023.  Frazier Nivens/Florida Keys News Bureau/Handout via REUTERS

During the three months and nine days he spent underwater, Dituri conducted daily daily experiments and measurements to monitor how his body responded to the increase in pressure over time. CBS Miami reported that Dituri said his experiment left him a half an inch shorter. He also said that he had improved his sleep cycle, reduced inflammation in his body, and lowered his cholesterol. 

He also met online with several thousand students from 12 countries, taught a USF course and welcomed more than 60 visitors to the habitat.

"The most gratifying part about this is the interaction with almost 5,000 students and having them care about preserving, protecting and rejuvenating our marine environment," Dituri said.

He plans to present findings from Project Neptune 100 at November's World Extreme Medicine Conference in Scotland.

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