USF professor sets world record for living underwater in 100-day experiment

By Camille Fine.

A professor set a new record for the longest time living underwater without depressurization in an experiment that combines medical and ocean research along with educational outreach.

Biomedical engineering professor Joseph Dituri broke the record this weekend after living at the bottom of a 30-foot-deep lagoon in a 100-square-foot habitat located at Jules’ Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Florida. The isolated and extreme-confined lodge does not use submarine-technology, which adjusts for the increased underwater pressure.

Dituri’s main purpose while living underwater is not breaking records but studying how the human body responds to long-term exposure to extreme pressure. The research could help scientists improve technology for a wide range of people, including those with traumatic brain injuries and astronauts who travel to other planets.

In a statement,  Dituri said he’s sacrificed milestones like seeing his daughter graduate from college and he misses seeing the sunrise after early morning workouts.

The mission, organized by the Marine Resources Development Foundation, hopes to explore whether living under pressure can increase life spans and prevent certain aging diseases.  In the 74 days since the University of South Florida educator and retired U.S. Naval officer first went underwater on March 1, he’s  maintained a protein-heavy diet by using a microwave to cook eggs and salmon, exercised with resistance bands, did his daily pushups and taken hour-long naps. The microwave is the only cooking allowed because of the pressurized conditions.

Dituri underwent a variety of psychological and medical tests before living underwater for the experiment.