On June 9, 2023, University of South Florida Associate Professor Dr. Joseph Dituri, Ph.D. resurfaced at Key Largo, Florida, after living underwater for 100 days. Dituri, a retired U.S. Navy Saturation Diving Officer, began his submerged stay in a 100-square-foot underwater room at Jules' Undersea Lodge on March 1, 2023. From 22 feet underwater, he continued to teach his students online, living up to his nickname, "Dr. Deep Sea."
Dituri enlisted in the Navy in 1985 and worked in saturation diving and ship repair. He attended the University of South Carolina where he earned a B.S. in Computer Science before commissioning through the Navy's Special Operations Officer pipeline. As a diving officer, he attended the Naval Post Graduate School and earned a Master's degree in Astronautical Engineering. After nearly 28 years of Naval service, Dituri retired at the rank of commander. He earned his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at USF.
The 100 days that Dituri lived underwater was part of the Neptune 100 Day Undersea Mission. This scientific program aims to further medical research, ocean conservation and technical development. "It’s really not about the record," Dituri said in a USF article. "If we can get people excited about science, that would be a great success to me!"
After Dituri resurfaced, he was examined by doctors. With his medical team, Dituri will analyze the data collected before, during and after his underwater stay. His research focuses on increased pressure's effects on the human body and its potential to treat illnesses, including traumatic brain injuries. However, Dituri already discovered that the increased pressure of his 100 days underwater resulted in him shrinking half an inch.
The Neptune 100 Project also contributed to space research. "It takes 200 days to travel to Mars," Dituri said. "This research could help us better prepare our astronauts to ensure they arrive healthy and strong enough to explore the planet." Dituri himself plans to undergo zero-gravity training in mid-September 2023 in pursuit of his goal of becoming a civilian astronaut. He hopes to travel to space by 2026.