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Monday, June 24, 2024

Florida Researcher Breaks World Record for Living Underwater

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

May 16, 2023

Courtesy of Joseph Dituri

Courtesy of Joseph Dituri

University of South Florida (USF) Associate Professor Joseph Dituri has broken the world record for living underwater, previously set at 73 days.

Dituri is studying how the human body responds to long-term exposure to pressure from an underwater habitat located at Jules’ Undersea Lodge in Key Largo where he’s been living since March 1.

His 100-square-foot underwater home has subjected him to an isolated and extreme-confined environment. With this new record, Dituri's officially reached uncharted territory for science, and he hopes his research may have far-reaching impacts, even in space. A team of physicians is gathering data on Dituri’s health to compare to tests that were performed before he went underwater and will be performed again once he rises to the surface. The information will determine how the confined, rich-oxygen environment can impact an individual mentally and physically.

“It takes 200 days to travel to Mars,” Dituri said. “Our astronauts will have to travel in an environment similar to the one I’m in now – the confined area will limit their options for food, how far they can see and how they can exercise. They will experience muscle loss, bone loss and vision problems. This research could help us better prepare our astronauts to ensure they arrive healthy and strong enough to explore the planet.”

Dituri also hopes the research will allow him to help people with traumatic brain injuries – his original inspiration to earn his doctoral degree from USF and begin hyperbaric research. His hypothesis: If hyperbaric pressure can be used to increase cerebral blood flow, then it can be used to treat traumatic brain injuries and a broad spectrum of diseases.  

For the remainder of his 100-day mission, Dituri will teach his students online and continue monitoring his health. While he’s been mostly in confinement, he does occasionally put on scuba gear to explore the ocean with visiting scientists. Dituri hopes to protect, preserve and rejuvenate the marine environment through collaboration with colleagues, while also inspiring the next generation of scientists.

Beyond his USF students, Dituri has virtually interacted and taught more than 2,450 students from countries all around the world, including Korea, Abu Dhabi and Chili.