KEY LARGO, Fla. – A Florida researcher who broke the world record for the longest time spent living underwater resurfaced Friday after 100 days.
Retired U.S. Navy commander Joseph Dituri emerged from Jules’ Undersea Lodge, the U.S.’s only underwater hotel nestled about 30 feet beneath a lagoon in Key Largo, at 10:30 a.m.
Dituri, who holds a doctorate in biomedical engineering and teaches hyperbaric medicine, began the scientific mission on March 1 through a partnership with MarineLab Resources Development Foundation.
He had broken the record, previously set in 2014 at Jules’ by two Tennessee university educators, 73 days into his stay, but continued living in the hotel’s underwater 100-square-foot lab at ambient pressure as long as funding would allow.
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“To explore anything new always results in personal and professional discoveries,” Dituri said in a statement. “This experience has changed me in important ways, and my greatest hope is that I have inspired a new generation of explorers and researchers to push past all boundaries.”
He had been living underwater in the hotel to inspire scientists around the world who study life undersea and discover how the human body functions when in isolated, confined and extreme environments. Dituri was also working on projects related to the study of traumatic brain injuries, PTSD and other brain traumas.
“I treat traumatic brain injury at the same pressure that I’m at right now because it increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor and insulin growth factor and all the other things that are involved in fixing traumatic brain injury,” Dituri said in a previous interview with News 6.
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A team of 12 doctors conducted regular testing of Dituri’s brain waves, heart rate, blood pressure, ear pressure, urine, oxygen saturation and muscle measuring during the length of his underwater stay.
The preliminary research shows that during this time, Dituri shrunk half an inch and slept in 60-66% REM sleep consistently, compared to 40% prior. His cholesterol also dropped 72 points and his inflammatory markers decreased by 30%, both remaining low, according to the findings.
During the mission, he also continued teaching his biomedical engineering course for the University of South Florida and was visited by more than 60 people, including family, MarineLab young explorers and scientists.
Dituri plans to share more of his research at the World Extreme Medical Conference in Scotland this November.
Florida’s Fourth Estate hosts Matt Austin and Ginger Gadsden interviewed Diruti during his underwater mission. To listen to that full interview, click here.
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