Florida man sets record for most days lived underwater

KEY LARGO, Fla. (AP) — A university professor broke the record for longest life underwater without depressurization at a scuba diver lodge in the Florida Keys this weekend.

Day 74 of Joseph Dituri’s stay at Jules’ Undersea Lodge, which sits at the bottom of a 30-foot-deep lagoon in Key Largo, was not much different from his previous days there since he went underground on March 1st.

Dituri, who is also known by this nickname “DR. Deep Sea,” ate a high-protein meal of microwaved eggs and salmon, worked out with resistance bands, did his daily push-ups, and took a one-hour nap. Unlike a submarine, the lodge does not use technology to adapt to the increased underwater pressure.

The previous record of 73 days, two hours, and 34 minutes was set in 2014 by two Tennessee professors – Bruce Cantrell and Jessica Fain – at the same location.

But Dituri isn’t just content with the record and resurfaces: he wants to stay at the lodge until June 9, when he will turn 100 days and complete an underwater mission called Project Neptune 100.

His research involves daily physiological experiments to monitor how the human body responds to long-term exposure to extreme pressure.

“This is about populating the world’s oceans, protecting them by living in them and treating them really well,” Dituri said.

The outreach portion of Dituri’s mission includes conducting online courses and broadcasting interviews from his under-the-sea digital studio. In the past 74 days, he has reached over 2,500 students through online marine science courses and more with his regular biomedical engineering courses at the University of South Florida.

Although he says he loves living under the sea, there’s one thing he really misses.

“The thing I miss the most on the surface is literally the sun,” Dituri said. “The sun has been an important factor in my life – I usually go to the gym at five and then come out and watch the sunrise.”

The mission combines medical and marine research with educational work and was organized by the Marine Resources Development Foundation, the habitat’s owner.

“The record is a small improvement and I really appreciate that,” said Dituri, a University of South Florida educator who has a PhD in biomedical engineering and is a retired US Navy officer. “I’m honored to have it, but we still have more scientific work to do.”

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