Lindenhurst grad looks to break world record by living underwater for 100 days


Come June, they just may call him King of the Sea.

If Joseph Dituri follows through on his intent to live 100 days underwater, the Long Island native will shatter the existing world record of 73 days.

But Dituri — a biomedical engineering associate professor at the University of South Florida — explained that his ambitious Project Neptune is about much more than having his name printed in a record book.

“Technically, it’s a world record. But that’s not the important part,” said the Lindenhurst High School graduate. “We’re doing three separate things while we’re down here. One is we’re going to do science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) outreach for kids.

“This is all about getting them to understand how to do research — getting them to understand that you can do research in cool environments,” he added.

Dituri, 55, said he’s conducting biomedical research during his stay in the underwater lab, which sits about 30 feet below the surface, in Emerald Lagoon in Key Largo, Florida. The third component of his mission is coordinating with marine scientists in highlighting the importance of preservation, protection and rejuvenation of the marine environment.

The endeavor has garnered worldwide attention, including write-ups in Smithsonian Magazine, USA Today, NPR, the New York Post and BBC. Dituri’s project was even highlighted on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” on March 11.

Dituri’s home this spring is a 100-square-foot habitat located at Jules’ Undersea Lodge in Key Largo. During his time under the sea, a medical team will document his health by routinely diving to his lab to run a battery of tests.

Click here to check out Joseph Dituri’s (aka Dr. Deep Sea)
Instagram account for updates on his project.

Before, during and after the project, Dituri will complete a series of psychosocial, psychological and medical tests, including blood panels, ultrasounds and electrocardiograms, and stem cell examinations. Doctors additionally will study the mental effects of Dituri’s isolation.

The University of South Florida reported that Dituri is advancing conclusions found in a study, where cells exposed to increased pressure doubled within five days. This suggests the increased pressure has the potential to allow humans to increase their longevity and prevent diseases associated with aging. 

Dituri cultivated his passion for science while serving in the U.S. Navy for 28 years as a saturation diving officer. He retired in 2012 as a commander, then enrolled at South Florida to earn his doctoral degree to learn more about traumatic brain injuries.

As part of the project’s STEM function, Dituri is meeting virtually with students in classrooms across the country. Earlier this month, he spoke with fifth-grade students at Daniel Street Elementary School in Lindenhurst about his current pursuits, as well as his learning experiences in Lindenhurst schools.

“I jumped on the chance for this former ‘Lindy Kid’ to speak to our current ‘Lindy Kids’ to show them that they can grow up to do big, important things, too,” Daniel Street Elementary teach Laura Colosa said.
about the experience.

Top photo: YouTube still