Expedition: Saltwater in the Salt Flats

We live in the desert in Utah; well, the salt flats to be exact.  That’s over 500 miles from the nearest ocean.  Yet we found out about this amazing place here – a natural spring in the middle of the desert that has exactly the salinity of the ocean in it.  You may think it’s somehow related to the Great Salt Lake, but they aren’t at all connected.  The Great Salt Lake actually has a MUCH HIGHER salinity than the ocean.
The natural saltwater spring, called Sea Base, has been stocked with all kinds of ocean animals – clownfish, tuna, and many other tropical fish.  There are also stingrays and even sharks.  My husband and I just got scuba certified and went to the springs for some of our dives, so we decided to take the whole family out there to see the cool fish.
You can feed the nurse sharks if you go at feeding time.
Our kids got pretty close up to the 8 foot nurse shark.
This is Steve the Stingray.  His buddy’s name is Irwin.
You can also feed him, but you have to use a claw tool so he doesn’t get your hand.
These poor fish are fish food.
There are observation decks for fish spotting over some of the springs.
This little shark liked my daughter a lot.  He just stuck around so she could pet him.
They come right up when it’s snacktime.
There is also a spot where you put your feet in the water and tiny fish come up and eat the scum from your feet and between your toes.  It’s like a very ticklish natural pedicure.  I’ll spare you the nasty foot pictures.
Here I am geared up with some of the guys from our diving group.  I was quite nervous about being in such a small spring with sharks and stingrays.
Of course, our kids loved this expedition even though they didn’t get to scuba dive.  My oldest son did decide to learn to scuba afterwards though.  He didn’t want to miss out on our next dive.
Sea Base is one of those surreal places that you feel shouldn’t even exist.  It was fascinating to scuba in a mini marine saltwater habitat smack dab in the middle of Utah’s desert.  Sadly, we lived here for about 4 years before we realized this place existed {and it’s within about 20 minutes of our home to boot!}.  Makes me wonder what else we’ve been missing out on around here.  What cool places have you visited near your home?


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