A professor who spent 100 days living and researching underwater has finally resurfaced this weekend.

On Friday, Joseph Dituri, a University of South Florida professor and a retired US naval officer, emerged from the depths of a Florida Keys scuba divers’ lodge after he went underwater three months ago.

The 55-year-old biomedical engineer whose nickname is “Dr Deep Sea” embarked on his underwater journey on 1 March when he entered Jules’ Undersea Lodge, an underwater steel-and-glass hotel built 30 feet below the surface of a Key Largo lagoon.

On 13 May, Dituri was championed by Guinness World Records for spending the longest time living in an underwater fixed habitat. At the time, Dituri had been underwater for 74 days. Dituri went on to beat his own record after he resurfaced on Friday.

Speaking to CBS, Dituri explained that his underwater stay “was never about the record”.

“It was about extending human tolerance for the underwater world and for an isolated, confined, extreme environment,” he said.

Dituri was living underwater as part of Project Neptune 100, which was organized by the Marine Resources Development Foundation. According to MRDF’s website, the project is a “100 day underseas mission combining research and ocean conservation outreach”.

“Project Neptune combines a long-term study of the physiological and psychological effects of compression on the human body and use the uniqueness of the mission and location to bring more awareness of current marine research and the importance of conservation of our ocean’s resources and processes,” it added.

A press release from the University of South Florida said the hypothesis that led Dituri to embark on this project was that increased pressure has the potential to help humans live longer and prevent ageing-related diseases.

One of the changes Dituri experienced while underwater was that the pressure caused him to shrink half an inch, according to the press release. Other preliminary findings include a drastic improvement in his sleep, cholesterol levels and inflammation levels.

Dituri and his medical team will analyze data collected before, during and after the mission and will go on to present the findings at the World Extreme Medicine Conference in Scotland in November.

“Dr Dituri’s amazing accomplishment is a great testimony to significant advances in knowledge and translational research that we are making here at USF in the area of bariatric medicine,” Robert Frisina, chair of the university’s medical engineering department, said. “Much important data has been collected over the past 100 days that will eventually find its way to key preventative and curative clinical procedures,” he added.

‘Dr Deep Sea’ emerges into sunlight after 100 days living underwater | Florida | The Guardian