On March 3, we shared the news story about Dr. Joseph Dituri who began a planned a 100 day journey to stay submerged underwater in an underwater laboratory at Jules’ Undersea Lodge in Key Largo.  The mission was part of Project NEPTUNE 100, where Dr. Dituari is conducting groundbreaking science for underwater human habitation at ambient pressure.

World Record For Living Underwater Broken By Florida Professor

Patch Staff

KEY LARGO, FL — It was a moment that associate University of South Florida professor Dr. Joseph Dituri said will be ingrained in his memory for the rest of his life.

Twenty-two feet below the surface of the ocean, Dituri stared at his watch, counting off the minutes and then the seconds as he sat inside the 100-square-foot underwater fixed habitat that had become his temporary home.

As the hands of his watch struck 1:05 p.m., he chuckled. Dituri, nicknamed Dr. Deep Sea, had just made history.

On May 13, Dituri broke the world record for the longest time spent living in an underwater laboratory.

Dubbing his mission “Project Neptune,” he entered the Jules’ Undersea Lodge in Key Largo on March 1 and claimed the world record 73 days into his 100-day mission.

He will remain in the Marine Resources Development Foundation’s Marine Lab facility until June 9, when he’ll emerge and submit to in-depth medical examinations by a team of doctors to learn about the effects of living underwater on the human body.

“I’m humbled that my curiosity for discovery has led me here,” said Dituri after breaking the record. “My goal is to inspire — not only for generations to come — but for scientists around the globe who study life undersea and how the human body functions when in extreme environments.”

The previous record was set in 2014 by Tennessee teachers Bruce Cantrell and Jessica Fain, who broke the record in the same undersea lab that Dituri now occupies.

While confined undersea, Dituri has been anything but idle. He has virtually interacted and taught more than 2,450 students in more than 10 countries, including Abu Dhabi, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Ireland, Korea, Vietnam and the United Kingdom, in addition to holding regular biomedical engineering classes at USF.

Dituri said he hopes his 100 days of isolation will spark interest and creative thinking in the world of science, particularly among students.

“I’m interested in science that will expand the limits of human endurance, longevity and capability, so we can go beyond the boundaries of our world,” he said from below the surface of the ocean.

“And most importantly, I want to find new ways to inspire and empower all of humanity to engage in lifelong exploration, especially children and students. They are the next, next generation. They are the ones that are going to carry the torch,” he said. “These kids are going to save the planet. And it’s my job to help them start taking care of the planet.”

“The University of South Florida community has been closely following Joseph Dituri’s journey, and it is clear that his passion for science is leading to significant contributions in the biomedical engineering field,” said USF President Rhea Law. “I offer my heartfelt congratulations to Dr. Dituri for breaking the world record, and I thank him for continuing to educate and inspire future generations.”

Being able to inspire students is a fringe benefit of his mission.

While living underwater, Dituri is pursuing his pet project — conducting research on the positive influence of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on human health, the physiological and psychological effects of compression and the ocean’s role in the treatment of disease.

Dituri said he became interested in researching hyperbaric oxygen therapy while serving in the U.S. Navy for 28 years as a saturation diving officer. During that time, he got to know a number of veterans suffering from traumatic brain injuries.

“I’m driven by years of military service and a deep love for those who have shed blood in the same sand,” he said.

After retiring in 2012 as a commander, Dituri enrolled at USF to earn his doctoral degree in biomedical engineering with a focus on traumatic brain injuries. Since then, he’s become a well-known hyperbaric medicine researcher and educator, pioneering a non-pharmaceutical brain injury recovery program using hyperbaric oxygen therapy and other therapies at the clinic he founded, Undersea Oxygen Clinic at 701 N. West Shore Blvd., Tampa.

He said hyperbaric oxygen helps the body heal naturally and has proven to be beneficial not only for brain injuries but for decompression sickness, crush injuries, severe anemia, burn injuries and radiation injuries. Watch a testimonial here.

It hasn’t been all serious, however.

Dituri said he couldn’t resist posting a clip from “Saturday Night Life” of news anchor Michael Che on his Facebook page.

“A deep sea diver has announced plans to set a new world record by living underwater for 100 days,” Che announced on the broadcast. “‘I feel like the record is longer than that,’ said the people of New Orleans.”

Once Dituri emerges from the underwater lab, he said he plans to look in a new direction — space.

In September, Dituri will participate in a flight on a modified airliner to experience zero gravity as part of his plan to travel into space in 2026.

The Neptune 100 Project is part of Joe’s ongoing research. And, in mid-September 2023, Dr. Dituri will “enjoy” a flight on a modified airliner to experience zero gravity multiple times.
It’s all part of his plan to travel into space in 2026.

Cited from Patch.com