Think Before You Throw Coins – The Tale of the Gentle Green Sea Turtle

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Travelers love good luck, and you’d be hard pressed to find someone who isn’t just a little tempted to toss or flip a coin into a fountain or water feature whether it be at a charming hotel, Trevi Fountain in Rome, or the Snow White Grotto in Disneyland.

Some fountains are ideal for your spare change, with the money going to charity. Other times, you might want to think twice before throwing in those coins.

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Unfortunately for aquatic creatures, coins don’t make their wishes come true. Quarters and pennies are attractively shiny, but don’t make a good meal.

No one knows this better than a gentle green sea turtle. The female turtle known as “Om Sin” meaning piggy bank in Thai, swallowed nearly 1,000 coins that tourists had thrown into her pool over the years in Sri Racha, Thailand.

Poor Om Sin eventually had trouble swimming because of the heavy weight of all the coins, and the underside of her shell started to crack.

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In an unfortunate predicament, she was brought to the Sea Turtle Conservation Center for observation and then surgery. Om Sin’s four hour surgery with five surgeons consisted of a careful procedure where a few coins at a time were removed through an incision.

About 11 pounds of undigestible metal were removed from the petite sea turtle, who is now recovering nicely at Chulalongkorn University’s animal hospital. She is on a liquid diet for the next few weeks.

Once the docile Om Sin is back in the water, she’ll no doubt feel a lot lighter and happier.

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With summer vacations coming up, hopefully travelers will think twice before tossing coins into any old fountain or water feature without first taking a peek to make sure it isn’t someone’s home!

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  1. Christian

    Great information. I have to admit that I’d never considered this.

    • Melinda

      Christian, I can’t say I’d ever thought much about it before either but I will now!