Meet academia’s Aquaman.
A University of South Florida professor has been living underwater since the beginning of March — and he will attempt to remain in his subaquatic abode for a record 100 days as part of a unique biology study.
Joseph Dituri, otherwise known as “Dr. Deepsea” on social media, is examining how the human body handles the long-term effects of staying submerged in extreme pressure as he lives in a 100-square-foot habitat 30 feet below the surface at Jules’ Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, according to a USF press release.
“Living in my undersea habitat for the next 100 days,” Dituri enthusiastically announced in an Instagram video when he began the journey on March 1.
“And guess what guys, we are gonna science the s–t out of this. We’re going to be talking about biomedical engineering, doing experiments in biology and biomedical engineering, we’re going to be talking to the who’s who of the undersea realm, and we’re gonna be having a good time!” he said.
If Dituri reaches his goal of 100 days of undersea living, he would smash the current record of 73 days dating back to 2014 when two professors from Tennessee accomplished it.
During his mission, a medical team will dive down to routinely check on the 55-year-old’s health. Some of the tests expected to be run during and after the study include blood panels, ultrasounds, and electrocardiograms.
He will also undergo psychosocial and psychological tests to understand the mental effects of being alone and stuck in a tight space for an extended period of time akin to space travel.
“The human body has never been underwater that long, so I will be monitored closely,” Dituri said in a statement. “This study will examine every way this journey impacts my body, but my null hypothesis is that there will be improvements to my health due to the increased pressure.”
Because Dituri will live in increased pressure, there’s the hope it could increase his longevity and prevent diseases tied to aging, the university said. That possibility comes from Dituri’s advancing conclusions found in a study where cells exposed to more pressure doubled within five days.
“So, we suspect I am going to come out super-human!” Dituri said.
As Dituri attempts a world record, he’s still teaching his biomedical engineering course online, the school noted.
He served in the US Navy for 28 years as a saturation diving officer before retiring in 2012 as a commander. He then earned his doctoral degree to learn more about traumatic brain injuries since he said many of “brothers and sisters” in the military suffered from them.
Dituri told USA Today Thursday that he frequently sees scuba divers pass by curious about his living arrangements, and while he can still text and talk over Zoom with his mother, girlfriend and three daughters, his mission has not come without sacrifices.
“My daughter’s in Caltech, graduates with a degree in physics in May. I’ll miss that,” Dituri told the publication. “We had to fit it in between hurricane season and the holidays, and I’m like, ‘Baby, something had to fall.’ And she’s like, ‘Don’t worry about it. I know you’ll be there in spirit.’ And I’m like, ‘Damn.’”
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