Dr. Joseph Dituri is on a mission to spend 100 days underwater. If successful, the University of South Florida (USF) associate professor will set a new record for undersea living. The record is a nice bonus. But the researcher is mainly doing it for science.
He wants to determine if long-term exposure to extreme pressure can help prevent age-related diseases and extend human life. Dr. Dituri also intends to investigate if breathing in oxygen in such settings can help heal brain trauma.
"The human body has never been underwater that long, so I will be monitored closely," Dr. Dituri said. "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."
Dr. Dituri's quest began on March 1, 2023, when he entered the Jules' Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Florida. The two-bedroom hotel sits 30 feet (9 m) deep on the ocean floor. Guests have to scuba dive to get to their rooms. It was built as a marine research center but later converted into an underwater hotel.
The "Neptune 100" mission is expected to end on June 9, 2023. During his 100-day stay, Dr. Dituri will continue teaching USF classes virtually. He will also host discussions with visiting scientists on ways to preserve marine environments.
Additionally, 40 lucky schoolchildren and their guardians will be invited for overnight stays at the underwater lodge. Dr. Dituri hopes the field trips will inspire the students to help protect our oceans.
"Even if I only stayed 60 days, but I turned a whole bunch of kids on to exploring the marine environment, that would be a win," Dr. Dituri told Keys Weekly.
Resources: USF.edu, Smithsonianmag.com