A college professor who spent 100 days living underwater at a diver’s lodge in the Florida Keys resurfaced on Friday and looked at the sun for the first time since March 1.
Dr. Joseph Dettori set a new record for longest life without decompression while staying at Jules’ Undersea Lodge, submerged in 30 feet (9.14 m) of water in Key Largo Lake.
The dive explorer and medical researcher broke the mark of 73 days, 2 hours, and 34 minutes set by two Tennessee professors on the same flag in 2014.
“It wasn’t about making a record,” Dettori said. “It was about expanding human tolerance for the underwater world and an isolated, confined, extreme environment.”
Dettori, who also goes by the nickname “Dr. Deep C,” is a University of South Florida instructor with a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and a retired US Navy officer.
Guinness World Records lists Dettori as the record holder on its website after his 74th day underwater last month. According to foundation president Ian Kublick, the Marine Resources Development Corporation, which owns the lodge, will require Guinness to certify Dettori’s 100-day mark.
The Dettori mission, dubbed Project Neptune 100, was organized by the Foundation. Unlike a submarine, which uses technology to keep the internal pressure roughly the same as it is on the surface, the lodge’s interior is tuned to match the high pressure found underwater.
The project aims to learn more about how the human body and mind respond to prolonged exposure to extreme stress and an isolated environment, and is designed to benefit ocean researchers and astronauts on future, long-term missions.
During the three months and nine days he was underwater, Dettori performed daily experiments and measurements to monitor how his body reacted to the increasing pressure over time.
He also met several thousand students from 12 countries online, taught a USF course, and hosted more than 60 home visitors.
“The most satisfying part of this is interacting with nearly 5,000 students and having them care about preserving, protecting, and rejuvenating our marine environment,” Dettori said.
He plans to present the results of the Neptune 100 project at the World Congress of Extreme Medicine in November in Scotland.