HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Most researchers would go above and beyond for their work. Still, one University of South Florida associate professor is simultaneously taking his studies below the surface and trying to break a world record.
Joseph Dituri, known as Dr. Deep Sea, lives 30 feet beneath the surface in a 100-square-foot space at Jules' Undersea Lodge in Key Largo.
"I have a coffee pot because that's absolutely necessary to live," said Dituri.
Dituri is trying to break a world record by living underwater for 100 days, or just over three months. The current world record for living underwater is 73 days, set in 2014.
Still, Dituri will tell you that it's not about the record but instead about the research.
"I said everything we need is on this planet," said Dituri. "Everything we need is here. We have the ying. We have the yang. We have the disease. We have the cure. We just need to look where we've never looked before."
Dituri is studying how the human body responds to long-term exposure to extreme pressure, all while teaching his biomedical engineering class online.
A team is keeping tabs on his health. Before, during and after the project, the US Navy veteran will complete a series of psychosocial, psychological, and medical tests, including blood panels, ultrasounds, electrocardiograms and stem cell tests.
"We're going to track me while I'm going through. The mental health part of this is important because you're in an isolated, confined, extreme environment," said Dituri.
The lengthy mission includes other projects, while the researcher also plans to use this as a platform for STEM outreach to inspire the next generation of big thinkers.
"Yesterday, I high-fived a little kid. A little girl that was swimming right by the window," Dituri said. "She swam up. I gave her a high-five. I was like, okay, mission complete. I don't care what else we do from here."
This article was written by Mary O'Connell for Scripps News Tampa.