Not SpongeBob: Florida man lives under the sea for science

Joseph Dituri says spending 100 days underwater will benefit veterans, mission to mars

Joseph Dituri is spending 100 days living under the ocean to further scientific research.

“I’m so good it’s criminal,” Dituri said.

Clearly, he is ecstatic to be living underwater. It’s a dream that is more than a decade in the making.

“It was December 24 of 2012 and James Cameron’s team had invited me out to his house to go look at his submersible, figure out its intrinsic value,” Dituri said.

While there Dituri said he found something incredible.

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“We had pulled the DNA sample off of one of the things that he found at 35,000 feet, and it was a partial cure for Alzheimer’s. The DNA existing naturally at the depth of 35,000 feet, was a partial cure for Alzheimer’s. At that point, I said, ‘We have Ying, we have Yang, we have disease, we have cure. It’s all here.’ I said, ‘We have to live in the ocean.’”

He said there were some obstacles to getting to where he is today, including the Coronavirus Pandemic. He is now attempting a world record, to spend 100 days underwater at a 100-square-foot habitat located at Jules’ Undersea Lodge in Key Largo.

Since taking the dive he has noticed some physical changes. He said a team even discovered a new organism on the ocean floor near his unique habitat, but what he is really excited about is how his research will help injured veterans and humans on their mission to Mars.

“My master’s (degree) is in astronautical engineering, right? So, I know a little bit about that. And I teach bioastronautics. So when you go through and go to Mars, it’s going to take at least 200 days. So people are like why is the mission 100 days long? Well, it’s 100 days long, because I couldn’t get the funding to go 200 days, but we’re doing everything analogous to space travel.”

He said he is using similar workout equipment to maintain muscle underwater as astronauts do on the International Space Station. He said living a large part of his time underwater in isolation also allows for valuable data to be collected as humans prepare to take the long journey to Mars.

He also said his work can help veterans suffering from brain injuries.

As a veteran that served 28 years in the navy, Dituri said he is honored to have had the opportunity to “go back to school and get a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering” after retirement.

He said this record-breaking attempt parallels the work he does with patients.

“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.

To make things even better Dituri added he gets to share all of this with young kids, who may want to pursue a career in STEAM like him someday.

“The other day I was here and I had a girl swim down — a little 13-year-old girl — swim down. She’s trying, she’s trying, she’s trying to high-five me. She did not give up. God bless that girl. And she high-fived me right in that window and I was like, I took a selfie right here. I was like, ‘Good for her.’ I sent it to the surface and she saw it and she started crying. And I was like, ‘No, you didn’t give up, good for you.’ Like, everybody’s like, ‘What if you don’t make it to 100 days?’ I’m like, ‘Did you see what we did with the little girl? Like I’m done! We’re good!’”

To learn more about Dituri’s underwater mission and to take a tour of his facility check out Florida’s Fourth Estate. You can download it from wherever you listen to podcasts or watch anytime on News 6+.

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About the Author:

Tiffany produces the News 6+ Takeover at 5:30 p.m., Florida's Fourth Estate and Talk to Tom.