Locator Super: Key Largo, Florida Keys
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Above-water and underwater b-roll of diving explorer and medical researcher Dr. Joseph Dituri submerging and entering undersea habitat, SOTs with Dituri (pronounced Dee-TUR-ee)
Video Source: Florida Keys News Bureau
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KEY LARGO, Florida Keys -- A diving explorer and medical researcher submerged Wednesday to begin a 100-day mission at Jules’ Undersea Lodge to conduct groundbreaking medical and marine science research and attempt to set a record for underwater human habitation at ambient pressure.
Retired U.S. Navy commander Joseph Dituri, 55, who holds a doctorate in biomedical engineering and teaches hyperbaric medicine, is to live and work until June 9 at the facility originally fabricated as a marine research laboratory and converted to Jules’ in 1986.
The previous record for human subsea habitation at ambient pressure is 73 days, set in 2014 at Jules’ by two Tennessee university educators.
The habitat is situated 30 feet beneath the surface in a Key Largo lagoon.
During Project NEPTUNE 100, Dituri is to be rigorously tested and analyzed to evaluate the impacts of living in a confined, extreme environment.
Much research will focus on hyperbaric medicine, which delivers oxygen under increased pressure to treat conditions like carbon monoxide poisoning and infections that starve tissues of oxygen. During Dituri’s 100 days underwater, his medical team is to document health results including potential increased production of stem cells.
“We can make you basically grow new blood vessels, so there’s a bunch of good benefits of hyperbaric medicine that we’re going to be testing,” Dituri said.
He also will conduct online high school and college classes in hyperbaric medicine and welcome some 40 young divers, who will spend 24 hours undersea with him to become certified aquanauts.
“It’s not so much about the record, it’s more about incentivizing the next generation of kids to come down here to learn how to preserve, protect and to rejuvenate the marine environment,” Dituri said.
Top marine scientists including renowned oceanographer Sylvia Earle are to join Dituri underwater for online classes and broadcasts.
Also, a team of NASA contractors is to test a new artificial intelligence-based medical evaluation system for use on future long-duration space flights — given the similarities of Dituri’s mission and future missions to Mars.
“For 100 days I have to live in 100 square feet -- that’s a pretty tight little motor home -- same as when we’re going to Mars.” Dituri said.###
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