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A scientist is spending 100 days in an underwater hotel 22-feet deep in a Florida lagoon — see inside the structure
By Bianca Giacobone,
Joe Dituri is living underwater to research prolonged compression on the human body.
Jules' Undersea Lodge is an underwater habitat located 22-feet deep in a Florida lagoon.
Created for research purposes, the lodge is also a bed & breakfast, starting at $1,125 per night.
Joe Dituri is a biomedical engineer and a retired saturation diver for the US Navy. On 1 March, he grabbed his wetsuit and scuba tanks and dove 22 feet deep into a lagoon in Key Largo to reach the Jules' Undersea Lodge underwater habitat. The Jules' Undersea Lodge is accessible through a 'moon pool.' Dituri will live in the lodge until 9 June, for 100 days total, breaking the world record for the longest time anyone has spent underwater in a fixed environment — currently set at 73 days.
Joe Dituri and Jason Sonners, a certified hyperbaric practitioner, access the lodge through its moon pool. Dituri will host many visiting scientists during his stay at the lodge.
Jules' Undersea Lodge is a 20-foot wide and 50-foot long barge that was originally built for research purposes and located 300 feet deep on the edge of the continental shelf, off the coast of Puerto Rico.
"You get down there and you hear the roar of the air going out," Ian Koblick, founder of Jules' Undersea Lodge, told Insider.
In 1985, after being towed from Puerto Rico to Florida, divers Ian Koblick and Neil Monney turned the habitat into an underwater bed & breakfast and research space. The lodge is named after Jules Verne, writer of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas.
Guests can spend the night for $1,125 per single occupancy, or $ 1,687 per couple. 'It's not a five-star hotel by any wild stretch of the imagination," Dituri told Insider. "It is bare and meager living quarters for scientists. It's for people who are looking for a zest for life."
The Jules' Undersea Lodge hosts educational field trips for kids through its MarineLab program. The lodge is equipped with WiFi and a television.
The lodge is equipped with all the things you can find in a regular, over-the-surface apartment, including a television, WiFi, fridge, and kitchen.
Food is transported to the lodge in sealed, pressure-proof containers.
A pizza delivery dinner is included in the one-night fee. "Sometimes it comes up a little wet," Dituri said. "But it's the story of living underwater." Aside from breaking a world record, Dituri has two goals for his project NEPTUNE 100: raising awareness of marine research and conservation, and studying the effects of prolonged compression on the body The pressure inside the lodge is approximately 10 pounds per square inch more than on the surface. The increase in pressure can crush an empty jar, or squish an overly ripe banana.
Dituri showcases how bananas get squished by the pressure in an Instagram video .
Because of the prolonged compression, Dituri himself anticipates shrinking about one inch in the 100 days he's underwater. The inch will come back over time once he resurfaces. "I mean, I'm six one, I really don't care," he told Insider.
Dituri is the chairman of the Florida chapter of the Explorers Club, and he brought one of the club's flags inside the habitat with him. The Explorers Club only has 222 flags, which it gives to its members when they go on expeditions that are anticipated to bring scientific results. Once the expedition ends, the flag has to be returned to the club.
The scientist's anticipated shrinking is the exact opposite of what happens to astronauts, who grow in space. And the confined, isolated environment is analogous to a space flight. "The lodge has never generated a single dollar of profit in 30 years," founder Ian Koblick told Insider. "Why do I keep it going? Because it's the only place in the world where you can take people as close to going to space as you can get on this earth." Plus, Koblick says educating kids about marine conservation is key. He calls the kids that come and visit the lodge "marine conservation warriors." "If we could get more people to experience these kinds of things, we would have more people out trying to support saving our ocean," he told Insider. At the end of his 100 days, Dituri will emerge from the lodge and gradually make his way up, swimming around the lagoon. "I can tell you when I resurface that I'm going to go see the sunset because that's the one thing I miss the most," he told Insider. Read the original article on Business Insider
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