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Pelican's In Trouble

Mysterious Pelican Sickness Alarming

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

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So when I saw a story this morning on the San Jose Mercury News websiteabout the deaths of large numbersof the endangered speciesBrown 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 Pelicanhas been hit hard by an unknown desease or sicknessspreading in Northern California areas. Reports are that about 270 California Brown Pelicanshave been found, sick or dead, in places well oustside of their natural habitat. Disoriented, starving and weak these birds have wandered farfrom 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.

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Researchers at the University of Southern California - Department of Fish and Game at U.C. Davisand the U.S. Fish and WildlifeDepartment in Madison, Wisconsinare 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 Pelicanis an endangered speciesthat has suffered a number of plightsover the years from fish hooks to DDT to oil spills. Let's hope that this most recent mystery ailmentcan be overcome quickly for the sake of these magnificent birds.

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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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