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Researcher living underwater resurfaces after 100 days

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The researcher known as Dr. Deep Sea resurfaced from the depths of the Florida Keys last week.

(APPLAUSE)

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

It was the first time since March that Joe Dituri felt the wind and sun on his face because he'd been living 22 feet underwater for a hundred days. His feelings when he emerged...

JOE DITURI: Humbling and warmth - the warmth of the sun shining on my face and then all of the people that were just literally applauding. And I'm like, what are all you guys doing here?

CHANG: They were there to celebrate because Dituri has broken the record for time spent living underwater without depressurization. The previous record was 73 days.

SHAPIRO: And while breaking a record is pretty impressive, for him, it was mostly about the science.

DITURI: Tens of thousands of blood, urine, saliva, pulmonary function tests, oxygen saturation, blood pressure - that sort of testing.

CHANG: See; Dituri's mission for those 100 days was to study the effects of increased pressure on the human body - his human body.

DITURI: So far, preliminary example is that stress overall in my body has decreased. The inflammatory markers, every single one of them, has been cut by almost half. My height - I shrunk by about three-quarters of an inch, give or take. My cholesterol is down by 73 points.

SHAPIRO: Dituri's quick to stress that these are his preliminary findings. Over the next few months, he and his medical team will be poring through all that data they collected, and he plans to present their research in November.

CHANG: In the meantime, he's pretty happy about not being in such a tight space.

DITURI: One hundred percent, I miss least the fact that I had to duck to move everywhere or you'd have to bend to go through a 36-inch opening or, you know - oh, my goodness. The tiny home thing was not very fun.

SHAPIRO: Especially because he had to fill that tiny underwater home with...

DITURI: The scientific equipment, the computers, the notebooks, the - you know, the entire register of what happened, you know, microscope, electroencephalogram, stuff like that.

SHAPIRO: Stuff that he then had to move. And moving is way more complicated when you're on the ocean floor.

DITURI: You have to get everything that you need back to the surface. And just like it took me a couple of days to get stuff down there, that took several days to just start packing up, wrapping up.

CHANG: As for what's next...

DITURI: Next steps for Dr. Deep Sea - boy, we have some cool plans. We're doing some fun stuff, and that's what we're doing. We're showing the world that you can do research in a different way. You can do it, and it can be fun.

SHAPIRO: Would you do it, Ailsa?

CHANG: There is no way. I am so claustrophobic, and also, I get seasonal affective disorder. I need the sun.

(SOUNDBITE OF ERIC TUCKER SONG, "FWM FT. FRE$H") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Mallory Yu
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
Justine Kenin
Justine Kenin is an editor on All Things Considered. She joined NPR in 1999 as an intern. Nothing makes her happier than getting a book in the right reader's hands – most especially her own.