Florida professor known as ‘Dr. Deep Sea’ resurfaces after record 100 days underwater

KEY LARGO, Fla. — Dr. Deep Sea is back on dry land.

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University of South Florida associate professor Joseph Dituri, who broke the world record for the longest time living underwater, emerged after 100 days on Friday.

Nicknamed “Dr. Deep Sea,” Dituri, 55, spent his time living in Jules’ Undersea Lodge, WTVJ reported. The lodge is located at the bottom of a 30-foot lagoon near Key Largo. Dituri had been submerged since March 1, according to the television station.

“The human body has never been underwater that long,” Dituri said in a statement released by USF. “This experience has changed me in an important way, and my greatest hope is that I have inspired a new generation of explorers and researchers to push past all boundaries.”

Dituri broke the record for the longest time living underwater without depressurization on May 13, according to WUSF. The old record was set in 2014 by set by Tennessee professors Bruce Cantrell and Jessica Fain at the same location, WTVJ reported. The previous record-holders stayed under the surface for 73 days, 2 hours, 34 minutes, according to The Associated Press.

“It was never about the record,” Dituri told the AP. “It was about extending human tolerance for the underwater world and for an isolated, confined, extreme environment.”

Dituri said he already noticed one change to his body, stating that the pressure underwater caused him to shrink a half-inch from his 6-foot-1 frame, the university said in its news release. His cholesterol level also dropped 72 points and remained low while Dituri stayed underwater.

“Dr. Dituri’s amazing accomplishment is a great testimony to significant advances in knowledge and translational research that we are making here at USF in the area of bariatric medicine,” Robert Frisina, chair of the university’s Department of Medical Engineering, said in a statement. “Much important data has been collected over the past 100 days, that will eventually find its way to key preventative and curative clinical procedures.”

During his more than 14 weeks underwater, Dituri taught a virtual class in biomedical engineering and conducted 124 online interactions, USF said in its release. He made contact with more than 5,500 students from 15 countries.

“To explore anything new always results in personal and professional discoveries,” Dituri said. “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.”

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