Bank the Turtle: Death by Coins


Eleven pounds of coins led to the death of Om Sin. Photo courtesy of CNN

Mabel Ra, Photojournalist

Recently a sea turtle, a species considered endangered, died. The cause? 11-pounds worth of coins.


In the urban city of Bangkok, Thailand lies a public pond. In this pond resided a twenty-five year old green sea turtle. Natives and tourists come to the pond and throw in coins as an act of good luck. But, over time, the number of coins in the pond accumulated to several hundreds. With the coins mirroring shapes of food, the turtle likely consumed all the coins believing they were edible. However, as a result, 915 coins ended up in the stomach of this endangered creature.


She was nicknamed “Om Sin,” meaning piggy-bank. Without a doubt, the eleven pounds of coins led to severe pain and distress. When her discomfort was noticed, she was taken to a veterinary clinic in Bangkok. There, the vet diagnosed the cause from the hundreds of coins. The effects of the coins also negatively hurt the animal. Damaging its intestines and its immune system, the coins blocked protein intake; also, the toxicity of the nickel exceeded two-hundred times the safe amount. It even cracked Om Sin’s shell.


After she was brought in to the vet, Om Sin went in to undergo surgery. Doctor Nantarika Chansue was the operating veterinarian who performed the procedure. The surgery took seven hours. For a couple days following the surgery, the turtle seemed to be back in good health. However, she later appeared to have trouble breathing. Her second diagnosis in the past week was specified as a severe intestinal infection. Once again, she was sent to the veterinarian for an emergency surgery. But, she went into a coma. And with the high toxicity level in her body and her physical exhaustion, Om Sin died the same night.


The unfortunate incident circulated quickly within the public and via Facebook. Many people reacted mournfully and shocked when they found out that the death stemmed from the coins. Throwing objects and coins into areas with living creatures cause them to die long before their natural lifespan. Sea turtles have an average life expectancy of up to 100 years; and yet, Om Sin lived for a mere 25 years.


With the tragic death of Om Sin, people are now alerting others to stop the act of throwing coins in ponds for good fortune. While the act seems purely innocent, it can lead to the painful death of the pond’s inhabitants. Angel De Trinidad (11)  says, “In today’s society, I am not surprised by this recent incident. This is further another example of human carelessness. We must do everything we can to prevent issues such as this.”