Location: Bonneville Sea Base, Utah
Max Depth: 19 feet
Date: December 30, 2002
Party Members: Travis & Matt Adsitt, Michelle & Mikayla Lyman
Links: Sea Base
Since the first time I dove Sea Base (about four years ago), they've adopted four new Nurse Sharks. They got these sharks when they were about a foot long and had outgrown some dude's aquarium. They've grown a bit since then. The largest one (named Tiny) is almost eight feet long! Travis was just about ready to get in the water when some other divers reported that the sharks were near the ladder and suddenly Travis didn't want to dive. No surprise there. Big fish scare him. I didn't push it because I don't want to cause some bizarre phobia that will last his whole life long, but he felt terrible that he was ruining our dive by not wanting to go. I assured him that diving is suppose to be fun, and if he isn't having fun it isn't worth diving. I explained how there was nothing there that could hurt him and we managed to do a tiny bit in the water. He was alright as long as he couldn't see the bottom. That's both easy and hard at Sea Base. It's hard because the bottom (where the sharks were) is only about fifteen feet deep. It's easy because the visibility is less then 8 feet. We worked through a little of his fear but didn't push the limits. In the end, he was happy that he'd given it a good try but happier still that he was back on dry land. Michelle and I stayed in for another very short dive. We swam through the tunnel (just a partially submerged culvert) found the submerged air lock (a windowed air space built about fifteen feed down). From there we went back and found the sharks laying on the bottom just where the other divers had said they were. There were three of them, all laying nose to nose. I know the vis was pretty low, because I settled down at one end of the beasts and Michelle was at other end, and we could barely see each other. Pretty gross huh. Even so, it was the first time I've ever swam with sharks and even got to pet them, so that made the stop at Sea Base worthwhile (once).
The kids were pretty excited to dive at SeaBase, so was I! I’ve always said that one day I was going to head out into the deep and dive with the sharks; this was my first introduction to the critters. SeaBase has 3 nurse sharks and 1 bamboo shark (he lives in a different spring so we didn’t get to see him). While Matt was renting a wet suit (see Blue Lake #2 dive report for further explanation), Mikayla, Travis and I completed the paperwork and looked at pictures of the critters that live in the springs. Travis was fascinated with the pictures of the sharks and actually seemed excited about seeing them, after, of course, the lady at the counter assured him that they were not aggressive. He asked about each fish that lives there and he and Mikayla were held in rapt attention by the woman’s description of each fish.
We suited up and got ready to go, Travis getting in first. By the time Mikayla was in, Travis had learned that the sharks were right below him and he wanted nothing more to do with that place. While Matt got him situated on shore, Mikayla and I swam around a bit in waiting, and then decided to do a little exploring on our own because she was getting cold (when you’ve got the girth and body fat of a garden hose, you get cold pretty quickly). We headed down and hadn’t swam 2 feet when we nearly ran into the tail end of our first shark! We looked at them, but didn’t touch, and then swam around a little more. I started to lead us through the tunnel, but feeling the 6 degree drop in temperature as I neared the next spring, I promptly turned myself and the little muffin around and headed back into the warmer water. We surfaced, talked about the cool sharks (we never saw their heads) and decided to submerge again for another look. Well, upon descending, little Mikayla nearly landed on the head of *Tiny*, the 8 foot long nurse shark. Now they’re not aggressive by nature, but I’m sure if something ½ its size landed on its head, Tiny would NOT have been a happy aquatic camper! She quickly adjusted her buoyancy and we swam back to the ladder. By this time, she was ready to get out and play with Travis so Matt and I decided that we should empty at least ½ a tank for the weekends’ efforts, so we made a quick dive. We swam to the tunnel and into the cooler spring, explored (blindly) until we found the air lock, surfaced beneath for a little conversation, and then swam back to find the sharks. This time when we ran into them (again, almost literally due to the bad visibility!), we took time to pet them. It took several aggressive tugs to get my mitts off, but once I had a free hand, I sat for a long time stroking the head of one of the sharks. Matt stayed at the tail end…hmmm…wonder why? I pet the entire length of the shark nearest to me, petting all of his back and sides. I wanted to have that moment permanently imprinted into my very DNA. They feel like sandpaper, very strange since they look so smooth. The eyes of a nurse shark appeared to be about ½ the size of a dime. For a moment, I even lay down with my head facing in, joining the nose to nose formation of the 3 creatures. (Okay, so I was about 2 feet back from their noses, I’m curious, not stupid!) The thrill of lying next to those powerful, magnificent beasts is indescribably. Next stop, great white feeding frenzy!
After the dive, we headed back to Boise, 6 of the 8 tanks still completely full. Oh, well…any day diving cannot be considered a bad day!