On November 8, the government and treasury of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands issued a new coin in their popular “Marine Life” series. The latest coin features the pilot whale—or, to use their scientific name, Globicephala. These majestic sea mammals are large, robust animals with a bulbous head and no discernible beak. Though they are referred to as whales, they are actually members of the dolphin family, and are second only to the killer whale in size. Pilot whales are mostly dark gray, brown, or black, but have some light areas such as a grey saddle patch behind the dorsal fin. Other light areas are an anchor-shaped patch under the chin, a faint blaze marking behind the eye, a large marking on the belly, and a genital patch. These intelligent marine mammals form extremely cohesive social bonds, and the stranding of several hundred pilot whales at one time is not uncommon as pod members will often stick close together and protect the matriarch of the group. The pilot whale received its name due to a belief that the pod always follows a single leader, which, although not scientifically proven, is commonly believed to be the reason for these tragic mass strandings. The pilot whale can dive as deep as 500 meters when hunting for food, and has a diet consisting primarily of squid, along with fish, octopus, and crustaceans such as shrimp.
Pilot whales have one of the longest birth intervals for this species, calving once every three to five years. Most matings and calvings occur during the summer for long-finned pilot whales. For short-finned pilot whales of the Southern Hemisphere, births are at their highest in spring and autumn, while in Northern Hemisphere, the time in which calving peaks can vary by population.
Population figures for pilot whales are unknown, and even though they are depleted in some areas, pilot whales are not considered to be endangered. There are likely to be almost a million long-finned pilot whales and at least 200,000 short-finned pilot whales worldwide. Between the two species, pilot whales range in waters nearly worldwide, with long-finned pilot whales living in cold waters and short-finned pilot whales living in tropical and subtropical waters.
The 2017-dated crown coin is produced by the Pobjoy Mint, U.K., on behalf of the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands Treasury. The reverse design includes a pilot whale in the foreground in the Antarctic waters with the head of a second whale appearing above the water. The top of a third whale can be seen just above the waterline in the background.
The obverse of each coin features the new effigy design of HM Queen Elizabeth II that is an exclusive Pobjoy Mint design.
|£2||Cupro-nickel||28.2 g||38.6 mm||BU||Unlimited|
|£2||.925 silver||28.2 g||38.6 mm||Proof||10,000|
The coin is available in Brilliant Uncirculated cupro-nickel and Proof sterling silver. The cupro-nickel coin is shipped in a blue protective presentation pouch. The Proof silver coin is shipped encapsulated in an acrylic capsule for protection and housed in a custom red box with a certificate of authenticity. For more information on this and other coins issued by the government and treasury of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, please visit the website of the Pobjoy Mint. International sales dispatched where applicable.