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The coin collection showcases CSIRO research vessel (RV) Investigator, our deep towed camera technology, as well as rarely seen deep sea creatures including brittle star, gold coral and the king crab.

The deep sea discoveries were made during several voyages along Australia's southern and eastern coastline, reaching some of Australia's deepest habitats, including the abyss.

The coin collection features deep sea creatures discovered during several voyages on RV Investigator. ©  Royal Australian Mint

This area is one of the least explored areas on the planet with depths up to 6 km below sea level.

Researchers used a deep tow camera developed by CSIRO to capture information on life in the deep sea.

The camera can withstand the high pressures of the deep sea environment.

The 2023 new coin collection highlights these collaborative voyages and the significant contribution they have made to better understand life in our oceans.

Stars of the deep sea

The deep sea creatures showcased as part of the Creatures of the Deep coin program include:

Brittle star live on the branches of large coral colonies. ©  Royal Australian Mint

  • Blobfish, known for their grumpy and forlorn faces, and crowned the 'world's ugliest animal' by the Ugly Animal Preservation Society
  • 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, two kilometres 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. They have reduced eyes. To feed, they face into the current, extending their elongated pectoral fins forward 'feeling' for prey as it drifts by. 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, extracting food from the water.

Collect a coin

The 2023 'C' Mintmark Gallery Press coin is available at the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra.

Visitors can press their own coin between 1 January and 31 December 2023.

The rest of the Mintmark suite is available to purchase online from the Royal Australian Mint.

These coins are Australian legal tender. They were minted by the Royal Australian Mint and have gone through the legislated approval process (Currency Determination).

An image of Queen Elizabeth II features on the other side of the coins. This includes the dates 1952 to 2022, which are the dates of Queen Elizabeth II reign.

This is the new creatures of the deep coin.

We've collaborated with the Royal Australian Mint to develop the 2023 Creatures of the Deep coin collection.

The coin set features deep sea creatures discovered during voyages on RV Investigator along Australia's southern and eastern coastlines. 

John Pogonoski: It's quite exciting to see RV Investigator on a coin with some of the species that have been collected rom these deep waters. It's a great opportunity to educate the public on the roles of marine science in Australia. 

Candice Untiedt: t's really cool to be able to share with the public the deep sea, the technology that we use to study these environments - one of the largest and least explored habitats on Earth. 

The featured creatures include big fin squid, brittle star, dumbo octopus, cactus urchin, king crab, gold coral, blob fish, tripodfish.

John Pogonoski: I think it's important for Australians to learn an know a bit more about all of the environments around them, whether marine or terrestrial. B putting these species on coins it just educates the public a bit more about what lives in these environments and how we can adequately protect them. 

Candice Untiedt: Yeah but how do I even toss this thing? Step one. 

We're on an Australian coin!

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