Thursday, September 24, 2020

NC Aquarium Uses COVID Downtime to Clean Waterfall, Find Trove of Coins

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A North Carolina aquarium decided to put its COVID-19-caused downtime to good use and came out ahead, cleaning out a water fixture from patrons who mistook it for a wishing well and discovering 100 gallons of coins.

The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, located on a barrier island near Cape Lookout and one of three public aquariums in the state, had been closed since March 27 when Gov. Roy Cooper ordered most businesses shuttered to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

With no visitors, and therefore time on their hands, staff members decided to clean out the 30-foot Smokey Mountain waterfall at the facility only to discover the treasure trove of coinage, according to the aquarium’s official Facebook account.

The coins have been cleaned and sorted, and presumably still being counted, with the aquarium asking visitors to its social media page to guess the total value of the haul, which it was to post the answer this week.

The highest amount guessed as of Monday was $459,000 and the lowest less than $50, the Charlotte News & Observer reported. Other amounts guessed included $11,111.11, $33,333.33 and a few “wishes are priceless.”

The aquarium is considering the haul as charitable donations, saying the money “will go toward the general care of the aquarium and animals.”

The discovery could also have a mitigating effect on the national coin shortage declared by the Federal Reserve, which in June said was caused by the combination of the economic restrictions and the U.S. Mint reducing production to protect its employees.


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