Sakchai Lalit/AP
The female green green turtle nicknamed 'Bank' swims in a pool at Sea Turtle Conservation Center n Chonburi Province, Thailand, on Friday.

Why surgeons removed nearly 1,000 coins from an endangered turtle

Veterinarians in Thailand operated Monday on a female green sea turtle to remove nearly 1,000 coins from the endangered animal. She had fed for many years on the coins tossed by tourists into her pool in the eastern town of Sri Racha.

In many cultures, tossing coins into a fountain is thought to invite good luck. But for one sea turtle, the tradition has brought nothing but misfortune. 

A 25-year-old female green sea turtle underwent surgery in Bangkok, Thailand, on Monday, after veterinarians discovered nearly one thousand coins in her stomach. The turtle, nicknamed "Omsin," or "Bank," hailed from a pool in the eastern town of Sri Racha, a popular destination for tourists seeking good luck. Throwing coins onto turtles, according to Thai superstition, brings longevity to the thrower. 

Years of coin tossing resulted in a heavy ball in Bank's stomach, veterinarians said, weighing a total of 5 kilograms (11 lbs). The weight of the indigestible ball had cracked her ventral shell, which apparently led to a life-threatening infection. 

A team of surgeons from Chulalongkorn University's veterinary faculty carefully removed the 915 coins, many of which had corroded or partially dissolved. 

The veterinarians first discovered Bank's ailment after the navy found her and brought her in. A detailed 3-D scan revealed the source of the problem, as well as two fish hooks, which were also removed on Monday. 

"I felt angry that humans, whether or not they meant to do it or if they did it without thinking, had caused harm to this turtle," Nantarika Chansue, head of Chulalongkorn University's veterinary medical aquatic animal research center, told the Associated Press.

A campaign by Thai media last month to publicize Bank's story resulted in roughly 15,000 baht ($428) in donations from the public to pay for the turtle's surgery. 

Now, the veterinarians say, it will likely take about a month to make sure that Bank will fully recover and it is expected that she will also need months of physical therapy, Dr. Chansue told Reuters. 

"The result is satisfactory. Now it's up to Bank how much she can recover," said Pasakorn Briksawan, a member of the surgical team, to the Associated Press. 

Green sea turtles typically live around 80 years, according to Roongroje Thanawongnuwech, dean of Chulalongkorn University's veterinary facility. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists green sea turtles as an endangered species

This report includes material from the Associated Press and Reuters.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Why surgeons removed nearly 1,000 coins from an endangered turtle
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today