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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Florida Professor Breaks Record for the Longest a Human Has Lived Underwater


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By Stacey Ritzen

A University of South Florida professor who calls himself “Dr. Deep Sea” broke the world record for the longest a human has lived underwater this week after a jaw-dropping 74 days. And he’s still not finished yet.

Joseph Dituri, a retired U.S. Naval officer who also a holds a doctorate in biomedical engineering, has been living in a former underwater marine research laboratory called Jules’ Undersea Lodge, located 30 feet below the surface of a lagoon in Key Largo. Dubbed “Project Neptune 100,” Dituri first embarked on his experiment on March 1, and he plans to make it through the entire 100 days despite already having broken the record.

The previous record of 73 days was first set in 2014 by Tennessee professors Bruce Cantrell and Jessica Fain at the same location in 2014.

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Besides bragging rights, Dituri is hoping that his underwater stay will help him learn about how the human body reacts to extreme pressure for prolonged periods of time. Whereas submarines use technology to adjust for underwater pressure, the lodge does not. Dituri has been conducting daily physiology experiments to monitor how his body responds.

“The idea here is to populate the world’s oceans, to take care of them by living in them and really treating them well,” the 55-year-old told the Associated Press.

“Today I broke the world record for living underwater,” Dituri tweeted of his milestone on Sunday. “The curiosity for discovery has led me here. My goal from day one has been to inspire generations to come, interview scientists who study life undersea and learn how the human body functions in extreme environments.”

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In addition to his experiments, Dituri has been teaching students virtually and conducting broadcast interviews. He’s been surviving on protein-rich foods such as eggs and salmon that he prepares in a microwave, and stays fit using a combination of bodyweight exercises and resistance bands.

But while Dituri doesn’t mind living underwater—he was also a diver for the Navy, after all—the main thing getting to him is lack of sunlight.

“The thing that I miss the most about being on the surface is literally the sun,” Dituri explained. “The sun has been a major factor in my life—I usually go to the gym at five and then I come back out and watch the sunrise.”

Seventy-four days without the sun would be a challenge, but it’s nothing compared to Spanish athlete Beatriz Flamini, who last month emerged from a cave in southern Spain after a whopping 500 days. Flamini was being monitored by scientists in an effort to understand the effects of isolation on the human body and mind.

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