For the last two months, Omsin — a 25-year-old female sea turtle in Thailand — was finding it strenuous to swim. Despite being on a “diet of good luck”, coins were bringing misery to her life.
Omsin, which means Piggy Bank in Thai, lives in a lake in Sriracha conservation centre, east of Bangkok. The locals and tourists would come to the conservation centre and throw coins in the lake hoping to be blessed with good fortune. However, they didn’t have any idea that Omsin was slowly swallowing the coins that were tossed into the lake.
On Monday, five veterinarian surgeons at the Faculty of Veterinary Science, Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, operated on the turtle and removed 915 coins from her stomach. It was them who gave her the name Omsin.
A total of 5 kg of coins and other objects were removed from her body. The turtle herself weighed 59 kg. The weight had cracked Omsin’s ventral shell, causing a life-threatening infection. The ball of coins formed inside her stomach was too big to take out. So it had to be removed few coins at a time after making a 10 cm incision.
The Navy had found the turtle ailing by the side of the lake and decided to take her to the vets. It was after a 3D scan; the vets discovered the large ball of coins inside her along with two fish hooks, which were all removed by the operation.
The media began to cover Omsin’s story when she was found last month. Her operation was conducted using the money raised from a public donation of 15,000 baht (approximately Rs 28,416).
This story is an example of how human behavior is affecting the wildlife around us. Practices like these are prevalent across the world. From coins to plastics, humans throw objects in water sometimes to bring good luck, and most of the times, without understanding the original reason for the practice. Omsin, in this case, was lucky to have been found by the Navy. There are hundreds of Omsins around the world. Let us stop polluting and endeavour to save their habitats.