An Aquarium Is Washing Old Wish Coins To Pay Bills During The Pandemic

aquarium washing coins

The coronavirus pandemic has served a huge blow to several businesses and the entire world economy. Despite the lockdown restrictions being almost completely lifted around the world, millions of businesses are still struggling to find their feet after months of inactivity. Some of the most affected businesses are tourist-based establishments as people are still prevented from gathering in crowds and traveling.

One such affected business is the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. The aquarium has been shut down for over 5 months since March, and despite not having any visitors, work has to continue. Animals have to be cared for and bills need to be paid, otherwise, they may face permanent closure. There’s even a contest to guess how much money was at the bottom of the waterfall.

While most business owners are struggling with the reality of coin shortage due to the pandemic, the aquarium is swimming in tens of thousands of coins ranging from nickels to pennies and dimes to quarters. The aquarium has a “wishing well”, a waterfall where visitors throw in coins and make wishes. Over the years, the coins have sat undisturbed but now, they will finally be put to good use to save the animals and make a real difference. [1].

Make a wish – and save an adorable owl or a smiling turtle

In a Facebook post on August 8, the aquarium wrote: “Our staff turned off the 30-foot tall Smoky Mountain waterfall and collected all the coins! About 100 gallons of coins were cleaned and sorted and will go toward the general care of the aquarium and animals during this time.”

They added: “Can you guess how much money was in the waterfall? Put your guesses in the comments and we’ll post the answer next week!”

As the staff continues to come in for work, caring for the animals and facilities, the aquarium now offers virtual tours and shows that anyone can enjoy from home. Regular visitors and new guests can tune in on their live channels to see some of their favorite animals and the newborns.

We’re sending each camper a program kit full of lots of materials that they’ll be able to use throughout the camp, it really allows us to make it more interactive. So there will be bingo sheets and scavenger hunt lists, and all kinds of fun things. We’re putting samples of plants in our area that they’ll be able to feel, it’s just a cool opportunity to allow campers to travel along our coasts,” says Wayne Justice, Special Activities Coordinator at the aquarium [2].

Last year, the NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores emerged the first-place winner of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Party for the Planet® video contest [3]. Their entry video, “Restore the Shore: #OverFlo” was said to have excellently “highlighted the aquarium’s efforts with the community on World Oceans Day to restore shoreline habitat damaged by Hurricane Florence.” The aquarium won a donation of $25,000 for their efforts which included cleanup events stretching as long as five miles down the coast, marsh grass planting, and dune restoration. They worked with over 70 volunteers from the Atlantic Beach town and the North Carolina Coastal Federation.

“We had a lot of work to do after the storm to restore our coastline,” said Windy Arey-kent, the aquarium’s education curator. “This was a wonderful opportunity to engage families and members of our community. These activities were educational and fun for participants, valuable for wildlife and habitats, and showcased the aquarium’s on-going commitment to our community.” 

  1. Camila Domonske. Aquarium Is Washing Old Wishes To Pay Bills During Pandemic. NPR. Retrieved 17-08-2020
  2. Kate Hussey and Rebekah Williams. Aquarium rolls out virtual activities, programs. WCTI 12.  Retrieved 17-08-2020
  3. NC Aquarium. Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium wins $25,000. JD News.  Retrieved 17-08-2020
  4. Jeanette Deforge. A ‘strange effect’ of the COVID-19 pandemic: Coin shortage leaving stores, banks begging for loose change. Mass Live.  Retrieved 17-08-2020

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