An associate university professor in Florida has completed his research mission and set a new world record in the process: living 100 days beneath the ocean’s surface.
On Friday morning, Dr. Joseph Dituri felt the sun’s rays for the first time since retreating to a subaquatic compound 22 feet below the waters of Key Largo, Florida, on March 1.
Dituri, 55, a biomedical engineer who teaches at the University of South Florida and calls himself “Dr. Deep Sea,” spent just over three months at the bottom of the Emerald Lagoon in Jules’ Undersea Lodge, the only underwater hotel in the United States, according to the hotel’s website.
The research project, Project Neptune 100, was organized by the Key Largo-based Marine Resources Development Foundation and focused on ocean conservation research and studying how compression affects the human body, according to Dituri’s website.
The US Navy veteran said he’s already noticed one impact: The water pressure seems to have shrunken his stature by half an inch. Dituri stood at 6 feet 1 inch tall before starting his mission, the University of South Florida stated in a news release.
The scientist began the project with a hypothesis that increased pressure could help humans live longer and prevent aging-related diseases, the news release said. Dituri said he hopes his underwater research will benefit the treatment of a variety of illnesses, including traumatic brain injuries, according to the release.
Dituri also used the project as an educational experience for youth.
“We intended to and have interacted with thousands of school children to get them interested in science, technology, engineering and math,” Dituri told Guinness World Records on June 8.
While underwater, he continued teaching his college students virtually, according to the University of South Florida.
Dituri broke the Guinness World Record for longest time living underwater at the 74-day mark of his project, on May 13.
The previous record stood at 73 days, two hours and 34 minutes, set at the same location at Dituri’s successful attempt, according to Guinness World Records.
Friends, family, fans of his 100-day journey and a medical team greeted Dituri on Friday as he broke the water’s surface after 14 weeks below, the University of South Florida news release said.
“The human body has never been underwater that long,” Dituri said in the news release. “This experience has changed me in an important way, and my greatest hope is that I have inspired a new generation of explorers and researchers to push past all boundaries.”