Retired Navy commander and university professor Joe Dituri has spent close to 100 days confined in an underwater habitat almost 30 feet below the surface off the Florida coast.
Dituri, who broke the record for the longest time spent underwater on May 14 at 73 days, is still down there, and planning to stick around until he hits an even 100 days on Friday.
And the effects the added pressure is having on his physical body are really starting to show. For one, he noticed that he no longer bangs his head on an iron handle attached to the ceiling.
"I've already shrunk at least a half an inch [due to the pressure]," Dituri told FOX 13.
When asked if he's expecting to grow the height back again once he reemerges, Dituri gave a surprising answer.
"I don't know," he told the broadcaster. "No idea. That's why we're doing this."
The roughly 100-square-foot habitat was built in the early 1980s and was originally intended for tourists to spend a night underwater.
Dituri has been using the habitat to study how the added pressure some 30 feet underwater — almost twice that on the surface — is affecting his body.
According to his own measurements, Dituri claims his cholesterol is already down.
The researcher is also suggesting that since his body is producing stem cells, the telomeres at the end of his chromosomes are growing instead of shortening, a process that is usually associated with aging.
In other words, he thinks spending prolonged periods of time underwater could slow down aging, a controversial conclusion.
"I suspect, and I'll find out exactly how many, but I suspect it will add that many more to my life," Dituri told FOX 13.
It's worth noting that Dituri also runs the Undersea Oxygen Clinic, where patients are subjected to higher pressures inside hyperbaric chambers to simulate a deep sea environment, meaning he has a financial interest in promoting purported health benefits of the therapy.
As the US Food and Drug Administration notes, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is already being used to treat health problems such as carbon monoxide poisoning and diabetic foot ulcers. Yet many claims surrounding the treatment remain unproven.
While experts have yet to analyze Dituri's findings, at the very least it's a fascinating glimpse into what living deep underwater does both physically and emotionally.
"The thing that I miss the most about being on the surface is literally the Sun," he said previously.
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