British Antarctic Territory: Endearing crabeater seal features on blue titanium crown

In the background, a crabeater Seal in Pléneau Bay, Antarctica. (Photo by Liam Quinn)

The government and treasury of the British Antarctic Territory have issued (14th July) a new, titanium coin which features a delightful image of the crabeater seal, or Lobodon carcinophaga, to use its designated scientific name. The crabeater seal is found in a circumpolar distribution around the coast of Antarctica and is a mammal that, despite its name, does not feed exclusively on crabs. Its diet, however, does include other crustaceans such as krill, which the seals, with their specially adapted sieve-like teeth, are very proficient at hunting. The crabeater seal is by far the planet’s most abundant seal, and there are well over 7 million world-wide.

Crabeaters move in a similar fashion to snakes and can reach speeds of 26 kilometres (just over 7 miles) per hour on land over short distances. In the water they can swim at speeds of up to 12 kilometres (3.3 miles) per hour, and cover over 60 kilometres (16 miles) in a day. They congregate on the ice in groups of up to 1,000 individuals and in the water can be found swimming in unison in groups of several hundred. The crabeater pups are big babies, and at birth can weigh between 20 and 30 kilograms (45–65 pounds) and measure about 120 centremetres (47 inches) in length. During their nursing period they grow at an incredibly fast rate of up to 4 kilograms (nearly 9 pounds) per day; they can weigh over 100 kilograms (220 pounds) by the time they are just two to three weeks old. The pups are also an important part of the diet of the leopard seal, and 80 percent of all crabeater pups share this unfortunate fate. Seals of all ages are also hunted by killer whales. This normally occurs in open water, but there have also been documented occasions in which the killer whales co-ordinate their attack and use waves of water to knock the seals from floating ice. Despite this challenge to their survival, the population of the crabeater seal is considered to be abundant, with a balanced and sustainable eco-system (although the threat of global warming and the disappearance of floating ice is a concern for all seal species).

The coins, which are minted in both cupro-nickel and blue-tinted titanium, are produced by the Pobjoy Mint, United Kingdom, on behalf of the government and treasury of the British Antarctic Territory. The reverse of the coin features a mother seal and her pup resting on the pack ice while the father leaves to hunt. The denomination of TWO POUNDS is seen just below the primary design.

The obverse features an effigy of HM Queen Elizabeth II which is exclusive to the Pobjoy Mint and depicted in exceptional detail.

Denom. Metal Weight Diameter Quality Maximum Mintage
£2 Titanium 10 g 36.1 mm Uncirculated 7,500
£2 .925 silver 28.2 g 38.6 mm Brilliant Unc. 10,000

Production is limited to 7,500 Uncirculated blue titanium and 10,000 Brilliant Uncirculated cupro-nickel coins. The cupro-nickel coin is shipped in a branded blue presentation pouch, while the Titanium coin is enclosed in an acrylic capsule for protection and housed in a custom red presentation box with certificate of authenticity. Please visit the website of the Pobjoy Mint for additional information on this and other coins issued by the government and treasury of the British Antarctic Territory.   ❑

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