Between May and September each year, the store's employees shifted their focus from cleaning clothes to helping turtles cross a busy two-lane road.
Some time ago, Best Cleaners, a dry cleaner in Connecticut, discovered that their store was right in the middle of a turtle migration route. As a result, every year between May and September, their job responsibilities shifted from solely cleaning and pressing clothes to picking up turtles. Pameacha Pond, a 19-acre water body located in Middletown, CT, became the destination for the spring migration of Eastern painted turtles, who had to cross a busy two-lane road in order to reach the pond and lay their eggs. Later in the summer, the pattern of turtle visitors changed. Instead of adult turtles making their way through the business's front door, the focus shifted to assisting tiny hatchlings, each no larger than a quarter, as they made their way through the back entrance.
Assistant manager Jennifer Malon told the Washington Post, "Every summer, we're always looking at our feet because we don't want to step on them." Malon is just one of the staff members who regularly cross the bustling road, holding turtles in their hands. Thanks to local news coverage and subsequent media attention, community members have been joining in to lend a hand. Malon shared with Middletown Press that everyone at the dry cleaners has chipped in to help at least one turtle make it across safely.
It has become a routine part of their job, and they have grown accustomed to the task. After picking up the turtles, they ensure the creatures are placed a reasonable distance closer to the water, where the turtles typically proceed to climb down the bank toward their destination.
Even though the Eastern painted turtles are not considered rare or endangered, they hold significance as indicator species that reflect the ecosystem's overall health. Despite their common occurrence in America, their presence serves as a valuable measure of ecosystem integrity. Interestingly, the residents of Middletown find charm in this unique situation. According to the State Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, turtles usually start laying their eggs in May or June.
During this time, female turtles create burrows in the ground and carefully conceal their eggs with sand, mud, or other appropriate materials. It's fascinating to note that some turtle species go to great lengths and travel considerable distances to find suitable nesting sites for their eggs. This behavior demonstrates their remarkable instinct for ensuring the survival of their offspring. Protecting these nesting areas and providing a safe environment for turtles during their egg-laying process is crucial for maintaining healthy turtle populations and contributing to the overall balance of the ecosystem.
The residents consider it to be a special aspect that sets their town apart. For them, observing turtles moving around the dry cleaners while picking up their dry cleaning adds to the town's character and creates a delightful experience. It shows how the community has embraced and appreciated the coexistence of wildlife and daily life, making it a positive and endearing feature of their town.