Talk about a mint collaboration.
We’ve worked with the Royal Australian Mint (the Mint) to develop their 2023 collector coin program, Creatures of the Deep.
The coin showcases our research vessel (RV) Investigator and our deep towed camera technology. It features rarely seen deep sea creatures like gold coral, brittle star and the king crab.
Coin design is on the money
This program continues the Mint’s focus on the natural world. Creatures of the Deep was chosen as the 2023 theme to continue showcasing Australia’s unique flora and fauna.
The coin collection features deep sea creatures discovered during several voyages on RV Investigator along Australia’s southern and eastern coastline.
These voyages of discovery reached some of Australia’s deepest habitats, including the abyss. This is one of the largest and least explored areas on the planet.
Researchers used a deep sea camera developed by us to capture information on environments and life in the deep sea.
The camera can withstand the high pressures of the deep sea environment. When deployed on the RV Investigator, a fibre optic cable is used to relay video and data in real time to scientists on the ship. Impressively, this can be broadcasted from depths of up to 4km deep.
The new coin collection highlights these collaborative research voyages and the significant contribution they’ve made to better understanding life in our oceans.
Ocean science pays
So much of our deep ocean remains a mystery. Oddly, we know more about the surface of Mars than we do about our deepest oceans.
One of RV Investigator’s recent voyages, Sampling the Abyss, travelled 3500km along Australia’s eastern coastline, studying life in the darkest and deepest parts of the ocean.
This voyage was led by Museums Victoria and supported by CSIRO, National Environmental Science Programme Marine Biodiversity Hub and Parks Australia, as well as Australian and international museums and research institutes.
The other voyages surveyed life and seabed habitats in the deep ocean of the Great Australian Bight and seamounts off the coast of Tasmania. They uncovered many new and fascinating deep-sea species.
Stars of the deep sea
The deep sea creatures showcased as part of the Creatures of the Deep coin program include:
- Blobfish, known for their grumpy and forlorn faces, and crowned the ‘world’s ugliest animal’
- Bigfin squid, known for their large fins and extremely long, slender arm and tentacle filaments. We saw a big fin squid for the first time in Australian waters in 2017, 2km below the ocean surface.
- Gold coral, which are octocorals. They have polyps with eight tentacles used to capture food particles floating in the water
- King crab, which is the largest of the 12 species from Australia. King crabs are adorned with sharp spines to provide protection from predators, and can reach a size of up to 20cm.
- Tripodfish, which prop themselves off the seafloor with stilt-like fins. Tripodfish are hermaphrodites, meaning they have both male and female sexual organs, so don’t need to find a mate.
- Dumbo octopus, which are nicknamed on account of their two fins. These can be large in some species and resemble the ears of Disney’s Dumbo the Flying Elephant. They use their fins and webbed arms to to glide gracefully through the water.
- Brittle star, many of which live on the branches of large coral colonies. This is so they can access drifting food particles. In exchange, the brittle stars keep the coral clean and free of debris.
- Cactus urchins, which occur in groups, perched on coral heads, or on hard, rocky bottoms. They can be short and round, or long and narrow. They are thought to be filter feeders, which extract food from the water.
Get your hands on a coin
The 2023 ‘C’ Mintmark Gallery Press coin is an Australian legal tender, officially approved by the Currency Determination and minted by the Royal Australian Mint.
If you’re visiting Canberra between 1 January and 31 December 2023, you can press your very own coin at the Royal Australian Mint. This means you’ll have the chance to hold a piece of history in your hands!
And if you’re not able to visit Canberra, you can still get your hands on the rest of the Mintmark suite by purchasing it online from the Royal Australian Mint.
On the other side of these coins, you’ll find an image of Queen Elizabeth II, featuring the dates of her reign from 1952 to 2022.