Just imagine telling your Scuba Diving buddies that you went diving in a geothermal heated, salt water, high altitude mini ocean with angelfish, nurse sharks, cowfish and cobias…and most surprising of all, this took place in the middle of Utah, no one would believe you!
The Bonneville Seabase located just 40 miles west of Salt Lake City off interstate 80, is just that, an unbelievable Scuba Diving experience. Developed by Linda Nelson and George Sanders in 1988, the owners purchased this 80-acre plot of land comprising of several hot springs and developed them into a series of divable saltwater bays, and added air-fill stations, showers, outhouses, dive classrooms and a snack store.
The Bonneville Seabase has three diving bays; White Rocks Bay, Habitat Bay, and The Abyss. White Rocks Bay is the smallest and shallowest of the bays at 125 by 65 feet and a depth of 14 feet; is covered during winter months with a Plexiglas roof to allow all year round snorkeling and diving. The White Rocks Bay is connected by a swim through, to the open air Habitat Bay which is approximately 5 times larger with a depth of 24 feet. The Habitat Bay features an underwater air-filled dive bell has been suspended at 15 feet/5 m and includes platforms for training, a boat wreck, and a long channel for compass training. This Bay is used most commonly for training open water courses. The Abyss is the warmest and deepest of the three bays, reaching a depth of 62 feet with platforms for safety stops and a platform at 60 feet.
Apart from the constantly thermally heated waters year round ranging from 80-90 degrees in the summer and 67-70 in the winter, the main attraction of the Bonneville Seabase is its abundant amount of marine life, introduced into the bays from all over the world to give divers a unique experience. Most artificially created diving lakes rarely contain any fish, and when they do, you will probably see freshwater river/lake fish. However here at the Seabase, the natural salt and year-round warm spring waters, naturally replicate the salinity of the sea, and allow for introduction of marine fish that you would otherwise never get to see in the middle of Utah.The Seabase currently boasts of a variety of Angel fish, Groupers, Grunts, Jacks, Tangs, and Rabbit fish, butterfly fish, sea robins, mullet, pork fish, monos, bannerfish, pufferfish and the most popular two nurse sharks and the newly introduced cobias.
Divers or gust visiting the park can also witness and help participate in the fish feeding that takes place at opening time each day. Admission to the Seabase is just $15 for the day, allowing you access all three bays. Facilities at the seabase include warm freshwater showers, changing rooms, gear rinse areas and a snack bar. A compressor, air storage and scuba diving equipment rentals including Nitrox and rebreathers are on site. Divers do have to keep in mind that the Seabase is located at an altitude of 4293 feet / 1300 meters, and must adjust dive depth to factor in altitude.
* Photo credits : photo by Mattk1979 on flickr