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Florida Man Sets New Record for Days Underwater at Pressure

Joseph Dituri
Courtesy Joseph Dituri / USF

Published May 15, 2023 9:08 PM by The Maritime Executive

A professor from University of South Florida has set a new record for time spent living underwater at ambient pressure, without the benefit of a submarine's pressure hull. 

As of Monday, USF Associate Professor Joseph Dituri has spent 74 days under water, breaking a previous record of 73 days. His record and the previous one were both set in the same facility, the Jules Undersea Lodge in Key Largo. 

Dituri is not done, however. His long-duration stay in the undersea habitat has a broader scientific purpose. Dituri, a biomedical engineering researcher, hopes to understand more about the effects of a high-oxygen, high-pressure environment on bloodflow in the brain, in hopes of finding new treatments for traumatic brain injury. 

The research could also be useful for astronauts on long-term missions - for example, a 200-day voyage to Mars. “Our astronauts will have to travel in an environment similar to the one I’m in now – the confined area will limit their options for food, how far they can see and how they can exercise. They will experience muscle loss, bone loss and vision problems. This research could help us better prepare our astronauts to ensure they arrive healthy and strong enough to explore the planet," he said.

Dituri has been able to dive outside the habitat, but has not been to the surface since March (USF / Joseph Dituri)

At the same time, Dituri is using remote-learning technology to keep up with his teaching schedule at USF, including (appropriately) a course on hyperbaric medicine. “I’m teaching a course about being under pressure while I am under pressure," he said. 

Dituri plans to stay in the habitat until June 9, the 100-day mark, recording his physiological response to the pressurized environment along the way.

While Dituri holds the new record for time at depth and pressure, the all-time record for time submerged goes to the crew of the Royal Navy submarine HMS Warspite. In 1982-3, Warspite spent 111 days submerged off the coast of the Falkland Islands and Argentina. That duration has yet to be surpassed (at least in the unclassified record).