PANACEA, FL — The Gulf Specimen Sealab shut down nearly two months ago due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Executive Director Cypress Rudlo explained as the universities started to shutdown, the sealab's biological supply orders stopped.
Rudloe said, "We ship specimens to professors that are teaching school groups at colleges and they started closing universities. The following week, it started with the local elementary schools closing."
Eventually, the aquarium had to lay off employees. At the same time, they still had to take care of the animals in their facility. "These animals still demand the same amount of care regardless if there's Coronavirus or not. We still have to feed them, we still have to maintain their filters."
Rudloe said the profit drop the aquarium has experienced is the worst he has ever seen. "We've been through oil spills, we've been through hurricanes, Michael was really bad. We've been through all kind of recessions and stuff like that, and usually we're able to weather," said Rudloe. "But, I've never seen a point where all sources of revenue stop."
Rudloe explained he did a rough estimate of lost sales and came up with a figure of $167,000.
Come Monday though, Rudloe and his team hopes things will start looking up. The Gulf Specimen will reopen to the public with some restrictions.
"We're going to be doing limited bookings," explained Rudloe. "So, if you want to come in, we ask that you call ahead. You don't have too, but if you can call ahead, we're going to lay out ten people at a time in the aquarium. We're going to be doing every 45 minutes."
Guests can expect to see social distancing signs. The aquarium has also brought in masks for their employees and hand sanitizer. While guests are not required to wear a mask in the aquarium, Rudloe suggests to do so anyway.