Brazilian environmentalists went down to the bed of the Iguazu River, in the Falls, to rescue the coins that tourists throw into the water when asking for their wishes. The intervention was carried out on Monday, coinciding with World Environment Day and ended with the extraction of almost 159 kilos of coins from almost 40 countries.
The work of the rescuers focused on the walkway area of the Iguazu National Park. The group took advantage of a sharp drop in the level of the river – a product of the closure of floodgates in the dams located upstream – and raked the basalt bedrock. In addition to the thousands of coins, cell phones, charms, chains, necklaces and rings, among other objects, were found.
In total, a total of 158.8 kilograms of coins were removed from the Iguazu River, mostly with a significant corrosion process. Those that still have value totaled about 3,000 reais (270,000 Argentine pesos at blue value) and that money will be allocated to an environmental action within the Park.
The task of cleaning the riverbed was an initiative of the concessionaire Urbia Cataratas and had the support of the Chico Mendes Institute for the Conservation of Biodiversity (ICMBio).
Specialists warned that the tradition of tourists throwing coins of different nationalities from the walkways of the Iguazu Falls as if it were the Trevi Fountain, is harmful to the health of animals, since many confuse metal objects with possible prey.
According to the Park administration, many visitors throw coins to make wishes, often without knowing that they generate a severe environmental problem, contamination of the water table and water.
The practice of collecting coins is carried out once a year in both parks but is always subject to the flow of the Iguazu River. A steep downspout is necessary so that the operators can safely descend to the riverbed and rescue the objects.
Similar bailouts were carried out on both margins in 2019. On the Brazilian side, the metal extracted from the river reached 300 kilos, while in the Iguazú National Park, in Argentina, it was 90 kilos.
From the company Iguazú Argentina, concessionaire of the services on the Argentine side, they said that they carried out the rescue of the coins when the operators went down to the river to rescue the footbridges that had been dragged by the flood of October last year.