Key Largo, Fla. (AP) — A university professor broke the record for the longest time underwater without decompression this weekend at a scuba diver’s lodge in the Florida Keys.
On his 74th day at Jules Undersea Lodge, which sits at the bottom of Key Largo’s 30-foot-deep lagoon, Joseph Dituri says his stay hasn’t changed much since it submerged on March 1. I didn’t.
Also known as Dituri “Dr. Deep Sea,” I ate a protein-rich diet of microwaved eggs and salmon, worked out with resistance bands, did daily push-ups, and took an hour-long nap. Unlike submarines, the lodge does not use technology to regulate increasing underwater pressure.
The previous record of 73 days, 2 hours and 34 minutes was set at the same location in 2014 by professors Bruce Cantrell and Jessica Fain of Tennessee.
But Dituri isn’t just content with the record and resurfacing. He will remain at the lodge until June 9, when he will be 100 days old and complete an underwater mission called Project Neptune 100.
The mission, which combines medical and marine research with educational support, was organized by the habitat’s owner, the Marine Resources Development Foundation.
“This record is a small step forward and we really appreciate it,” said Dituri, an educator at the University of South Florida, a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, and a retired U.S. Navy officer. “We are honored to receive the award, but scientifically there is still much work to be done.”
His research includes daily experiments in physiology to monitor how the human body responds to prolonged exposure to extreme pressure.
“The idea here is to inhabit the world’s oceans, live in them, and actually take care of them,” Dituri said.
The outreach portion of Dituri’s mission includes conducting online classes and broadcasting interviews from a digital studio on the ocean floor. In the past 74 days, he has taught more than 2,500 students at the University of South Florida through regular biomedical engineering courses, as well as online classes such as marine science.
He says he loves life under the sea, but there’s one thing he really misses.
“What I miss most about being on the surface is literally the sun,” Ditri said. “The sun has been a big factor in my life. I always go to the gym at 5 and then come back to watch the sunrise.”