Hawaiian green sea turtles are rare creatures. They are an endangered species and their only breeding colony in the country is at O‘ahu’s Sea Life Park. Thousands of miles away, in Thailand, a cousin of the local species is recovering after a dramatic ordeal. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.
A 130 pound green sea turtle is recuperating after surgery that removed more than 900 coins from her stomach.
The turtle lived in a pond near the Gulf of Thailand. In a small town spot popular with tourists, who would toss coins to the turtle for good luck.
The turtle ate the coins for years until someone with the Thai navy noticed the turtle was apparently having trouble swimming, and had a cracked shell that was infected. The navy brought the turtle to a veterinarian and it wound up at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. And underwent an ultrasound.
Results showed two fish hooks and 11 pounds of coins—nearly a tenth of the turtle’s body weight.
Next came seven hours of surgery, according to Reuters.
The Associated Press reports five surgeons removed a total of 915 coins a few at a time through a 4-inch incision in the turtle’s stomach.
Next comes two weeks of a liquid diet about a month of recovery and six months of physical therapy. But doctors say the turtle should survive.
The medical team has nicknamed her “Omsin”—which is Thai for “Piggy Bank.”