Sea turtle swims for first time following life-saving surgery

Head of Chulalongkorn University's veterinary medical aquatic animal research center Nantarika Chansue watch 25-year-old green sea turtle "Bank" swim in pond as part of rehabilitation treatment in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, March 10, 2017. Veterinarian operate on Bank on Monday to remove 915 coins weighing 5 kilograms (11 pounds) from her stomach, which she swallowed after misguided human passers-by tossed coin into her pool for luck in eastern Thailand. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

BANGKOK (AP) — Bank the green sea turtle flapped her flippers with vigor in her first swim after a life-saving operation to remove a heavy mass of swallowed coins from her stomach.

Veterinarians in Bangkok put the turtle in water Friday for the first time since her surgery four days ago to see how well she could move. The turtle was gently lowered into a large plastic tank and very quickly began swimming as best as she could in the restricted space.

“It’s fantastic! She is responding very well,” said Dr. Nantarika Chansue, who led the team from Chulalongkorn University’s Veterinary Faculty. “Now she is very happy and looks like normal turtle.”

The 25-year-old turtle was rescued from a pool in the seaside town of Sri Racha by the Thai navy. The cause of her ill health was revealed by 3D scans that showed she had been eating the coins thrown into her pool by passers-by who believed doing so would bring them luck or longevity.

Over the years, the loose change got stuck in the turtle’s digestive tract, cracking her ventral shell and causing a life-threatening infection.

The surgeons needed four hours to remove 5 kilograms (11 pounds) of money, counting 915 coins of various currencies. Some are still inside. Veterinarians hope Bank will pass them naturally.

Her rehabilitation has involved manipulating her limbs to make sure the muscles don’t stiffen up after being out of water for a prolonged period, and checking that the surgical scar does not get infected. But there are lingering concerns.

“The wound healing seems to be OK and there is no secondary infection because we are using sterile seawater,” said Nantarika, “but we have checked her blood and her nickel concentration is very high so we have to work on that.” provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s