Not SpongeBob: The Florida Man Lives Under the Sea for Science

Joseph Dituri spends 100 days living under the sea to further scientific research.

“I'm so good it's criminal,” Dituri said.

It's clear he's ecstatic about living underwater. It's a dream more than a decade in the making.

“It was December 24, 2012, and James Cameron's team had invited me over to his house to go and look at his submersible, find out its intrinsic value,” Dituri said.

There, Dituri said he found something incredible.

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“We had taken the DNA sample from one of the things that he found at 35,000 feet, and it was a partial cure for Alzheimer's. The DNA that was naturally present at a depth of 35,000 feet was a partial cure for Alzheimer's. time I said, ‘We have Ying, we have Yang, we have disease, we have cures. Everything is here. I said, “We must live in the sea.”

He said there were some obstacles to getting to where he is today, including the Coronavirus pandemic. He is now attempting a world record, to spend 100 days underwater in a 100 square meter habitat located at Jules' Undersea Lodge in Key Largo.

Since taking the dive, he has noticed some physical changes. He said a team even discovered a new organism on the ocean floor near his unique habitat, but what he's really excited about is how his research will help injured veterans and people on their missions to Mars.

“My master's degree is in astronautical engineering, right? So I know a little bit about that. And I teach bioastronautics. So when you go through and go to Mars, it's going to take at least 200 days. So people are like why is the mission 100 days long? Well, it's 100 days long, because I couldn't get the funding to go 200 days, but we're doing everything analogous to space travel.”

He said he uses similar exercise equipment to maintain muscle underwater as astronauts do on the International Space Station. He said that living much of their time underwater in isolation also allows for valuable data to be collected as humans prepare to make the long journey to Mars.

He also said his work could help veterans suffering from brain injuries.

As a veteran who served 28 years in the Navy, Dituri said he is honored to have the opportunity to “go back to school and get a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering” after retirement.

He said this record attempt is similar to the work he does with patients.

“I treat traumatic brain injury with the same pressure that I'm on right now because it increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor and insulin growth factor and all the other things that are involved in fixing traumatic brain injury,” Dituri said.

To make things even better, Dituri added that he gets to share all of this with young children, who may want to pursue a career in STEAM like him one day.

“The other day I was here and I had a girl swim down — a little 13-year-old girl — swim down. She's trying, she's trying, she's trying to high-five me. She didn't give up. God bless that girl. And she high -high-fived me right in that window and I thought, I took a selfie here. I thought, ‘good for her.' I sent it to the surface and she saw it and she started crying. And I thought, ‘No, you didn't give up , good for you.' Like everybody's like, ‘What if you don't make it to 100 days?' I'm like, ‘Did you see what we did with that little girl? Like I'm done! Be good!'”

To learn more about Dituri's underwater mission and take a tour of his facility check out Florida's fourth estate. You can download it wherever you listen to podcasts or watch anytime on News 6+.

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