KEY LARGO, Florida Keys —Diving explorer and medical researcher Dr. Joseph Dituri surfaced Friday, June 9 after living underwater for 100 days while carrying out a scientific research mission in a Florida Keys marine habitat.
Dituri set a new record for the longest time living underwater at ambient pressure while residing in the Jules’ Undersea Lodge habitat in Key Largo, eclipsing the previous record of 73 days that was set in 2014 at the same location.
“Being above water for the first time in 100 days … I feel the warmth of the sun and I feel grateful,” he said.
Dituri spent his time conducting medical and marine research and educational outreach for the Project Neptune 100 initiative that began March 1, and was organized by the Marine Resources Development Foundation that owns the habitat.
Research focused on how the human body and mind respond to extended exposure to extreme pressure and an isolated environment, with results hopefully to benefit ocean researchers and astronauts on future long-term missions.
“It was never about the record,” Dituri said. “It was about drawing a line in the sand and moving that needle — extending human tolerance for the underwater world, extending human tolerance for an isolated, confined extreme environment.”
During the mission numerous positive health benefits were recorded including a 72-point drop in Dituri’s cholesterol levels, a 30 percent reduction in all inflammatory markers and a significant increase in REM sleep, which plays an important role in healthy brain development.
Dituri also interacted online with several thousand students from 12 countries, taught a University of South Florida course while undersea, and welcomed more than 60 visitors to the habitat.
“The most gratifying part about this is the interaction with almost 5,000 students and having them care about preserving, protecting and rejuvenating our marine environment,” said Dituri.
He plans to present findings from Project Neptune 100 at the World Extreme Medical Conference in Scotland in November. Meanwhile, he intends to savor life above water.
“I’m going to enjoy the warmth of the sun; I’m going to spend time with my family and my loved ones,” Dituri said.
Dituri brought the Explorer's Club flag that was presented to him on March 1 at the beginning of the groundbreaking 100-day undersea mission.
Dituri peers from a porthole inside the Jules' Undersea Lodge, where he spent 100 days conducting marine and medical research and conducting outreach to science and technology-focused students.