What We Do on Mondays

Interns scrub Jerry's 25,000 gallon tank on a Monday. Sea Turtle, Inc. archive photo.

By Teresa Shumaker
Have you ever wondered why we close on Mondays? We often get asked this question as many other places stay open seven days a week. Unfortunately, we do not have a “behind the scenes” out of the public’s way, where we can feed and clean without causing tripping hazards or accidentally soaking some unsuspecting passerby.

When we vacuum our tanks in the morning, hoses snake across the floor, droplets of water get slung around as we move from tank to cleaning-station to tank with a skim net, cleaning any debris the vacuum misses. Our staff and volunteers work in a seemingly chaotic — but coordinated — ballet of cleaning and feeding to get everything just right before we open our doors. All of this is done before 10 a.m., so visitors do not get caught by a hose, dripped on by a skim net pole, or gets squid on them. No one wants to wear squid.

But day to day cleaning does not keep the tanks crystal clean forever, and the caustic ocean air is constantly wearing down our wooden decks, tanks, and plumbing. So we use Mondays to complete the big projects, such as draining a tank and scrubbing it top to bottom — to make it sterile for the next rehabilitation patient.

Floors and stairs are torn up and repaired. Our gift shop manager fulfills our online orders and restocks the shelves, and our vet tech performs any health screenings or runs turtles to the veterinarian at Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville (a 45 minute drive one-way) for important check-ups.

Lastly, our small staff that works hard to meet and greet people throughout the week, all gather-round a few computers in our upstairs office to catch up on paperwork and record keeping. Every turtle that comes in has a file that needs to be kept up-to-date. We have many different reports we must send out as required by our permits, and tons of wonderful emails and letters to reply to from people who support our cause.  We take time to answer them personally.

Although some Mondays might seem quiet from the outside of our facility, we are buzzing with activity behind closed doors.  Spreading our passion for sea turtles is one of our highest priorities, which is why we take one day a week to knock out the rest of our projects — so we can focus the other six days on meeting you and sharing our knowledge about these magnificent creatures.

Therefore, the next time you want to visit us, and are bummed that we are closed on a Monday, just remember we are busy getting all the extra stuff done so we can spend the rest of the week on an important part of our mission: helping everyone who visits to fall in love with sea turtles.

STI Staff, volunteers, and members from the Texas Chapter of International Pool and Spa 
Services Association move the new heating pump, donated by Aquacal, into place in 
November 2014. Teresa Shumaker photo.