Clay is a very easy-going man who cares a lot about the animals being nursed in the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. However, he is also very firm and strict in regards to the aquarium; when he finds Sawyer in the aquarium, he isn't too pleased about it, as civilians aren't allowed in the treatment area. However, when he notices Winter responds to Sawyer, Clay allows him to visit. Over time, he begins to trust Sawyer as if he were his son. He is also very firm in regards to the safety of his employees.
He sometimes feels hopeless in extremely dire situations, like when he is told that Winter may have to be euthanized, due to lack of money and time. But his family and friends are able to convince him otherwise.
He also strives to do the right thing, regardless of the consequences, like when Phil Hordern, a real estate developer, argues with him that if he releases Mandy, they'll lose Winter to the government.