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Pelican's In Trouble
January 13, 2009

Mysterious Pelican Sickness Alarming

One of the most interesting and ever expanding topical areas of coin collecting is the persuit of coins which depict animals in their designs. Many circulating coins have used indiginous animals on their reverses and there are loads of commemorative coins with all species of animals.

So when I saw a story this morning on the San Jose Mercury News website about the deaths of large numbers of the endangered species Brown Pelican, I felt completed to pass the word along. Especially since there are several commemoraitve coins with Pelicans, including a number which feature the Brown Pelican.

Here's a quick rundown of what's happening:

With the last few weeks the majestic Brown Pelican has been hit hard by an unknown disease or sickness spreading in Northern California areas. Reports are that about 270 California Brown Pelicans have been found, sick or dead, in places well oustside of their natural habitat. Disoriented, starving and weak these birds have wandered far from their flocks and into areas where normal food supplies are not available.

Human Societies, Biologists and Avian Researchers are working frantically to save these treasured birds. Some of the Pelican's that have turned up sick are being nursed back to health on a fish and vitamin diet. Most, however, have been too weak or have additional injuries forcing a majority to be euthanized.

Researchers at the University of Southern California - Department of Fish and Game at U.C. Davis and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department in Madison, Wisconsin are studying tissue samples looking for answers to the mystery. It may be weeks before they have enough information to come to any conclusions, though initial ideas are sparking already.

The California Brown Pelican is an endangered species that has suffered a
number of plights over the years from fish hooks to DDT to oil spills. Let's hope that this most recent mystery ailment can be overcome quickly for the sake of these magnificent birds.

As for Pelicans appearing on coins, Dr Dennis G. Rainey, author of the Coin Critters column in World Coin News, was kind enough to send me a list of Pelican coins:

* Albania -- Dalmatian Pelican -- KM 75
* Barbados -- probably Brown -- KM 36
* British Virgin Is. -- Brown -- several KM (50 cents)
* Cook Islands -- Brown -- one of U.S. National Park series; not in catalog that I can find; some were never issued
* Cuba (3 denominations) -- Brown -- KM 497, 501, 505
* France -- Brown -- E8 (French Overseas Dept., p. 165 in 2009 2001-Date)
* Guadeloupe -- Brown
* Mongolia -- Dalmatian -- KM 187
* Romania -- Dalmatian --KM 186
* Senegal -- Great White -- KM 6
* St. Vincent -- Brown -- KM 15
* Turkey -- Dalmatian -- KM 1133
* Zambia -- Great White -- KM 61(may be a subspecies of the Great White called the Pink-backed; safer to call it just Great White)

As you can see, there are quite a few and several of them are the Brown Pelicans. Dennis pointed out that two were not listed in the Standard Catalog of World Coins. The Guadeloupe coin is listed in Unusual Wolrd Coins in gold as X #E15 and in copper as X #E15a, but these are fantasy issues. Still, I am wondering about the Cook Islands National Park series coin. Have any of my readers seen this coin?

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About the Author
Tom Michael has been Krause Publications primary market analyst on more than 80 world and United States coin catalogs produced over the last 20 years. He came to KP in 1987 with a bachelor of arts degree in history, a master of arts degree in economics and a history of coin collecting stretching back to the 1960s. He began collecting world coins as a child by asking friends and relatives to bring coins back from overseas trips, visiting flea markets and having his mother watch for foreign coins in her register at the local grocery store. Today he works with a dedicated base of over 200 contributors to provide accurate market values for the five-volume Standard Catalog of World Coins series, as well as many specialty catalogs, including Coins & Currency of the Middle East and the fifth edition of Unusual World Coins.

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