For the past several days, Joseph Dituri has been living underwater with the goal of spending 100 days below the surface for science. A biomedical engineer and former U.S. Navy veteran, Dituri is attempting to break the current world record for the longest time spent living underwater, which was set by two Tennessee biologists who spent 73 days beneath the surface in 2014.
Dituri is living in Jules’ Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Florida, the same location where the previous record was set. The 100-square-foot hotel sits 30 feet below the surface and is his intended home until June 9, where he’ll be carrying out research and giving virtual lectures for his students at the University of South Florida. One of the main goals of Dituri’s research is to investigate the effects of living in a high-pressure environment for an extended period. The pressure in the underwater habitat is about 1.6 times that of Earth’s surface, and air must be constantly pumped into the space to keep water from entering. Dituri hopes that his underwater experience could reveal ways to combat age-related diseases and lengthen lifespan.
Before starting his journey, Dituri underwent several psychosocial, psychological, and medical tests, including blood panels, ultrasounds, electrocardiograms, and stem cell tests. He will continue to undergo testing during and after his 100 days at the lodge. Dituri is also taking doses of Vitamin D and keeping regular psychological appointments, as being in an isolated, confined, and extreme environment for an extended period can impact mental health. As part of his research, Dituri will also be testing an experimental artificial intelligence health monitor from NASA designed to help keep astronauts safe on lengthy space voyages.
Dituri plans to invite about 40 children to stay with him for 24 hours at a time and learn to dive. To him, this outreach is what makes the whole project worth it, more than the chance for a world record. “The oceans are in a bit of trouble—the coral reefs are under attack, fisheries are collapsing,” Thane Milhoan, habitat operations manager for Jules’ Undersea Lodge, says in a video. “We wanted to utilize the attention that the 100-day mission would demand to … inspire the youth, more so than anybody, to get involved and start taking action.”
Overall, Joseph Dituri’s journey is an incredible example of human endurance and a testament to the potential benefits of exploring the underwater world. His research may offer insights into combating age-related diseases and lengthening lifespan, and his outreach efforts to inspire young people to get involved in ocean conservation are admirable. We wish him the best of luck in his journey and look forward to seeing the results of his research.