When the Royal Canadian Mint invited me to submit a design for the first coin in a new series of Sea Creatures coins, I was thrilled at the chance to illustrate a sea star. I have a real affinity for invertebrates; indeed my favorite animal group is the one containing the sea stars, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, brittle stars, sea lilies, etc. — the Phylum Echinodermata (which means “spiny skin”). The beautiful and intricate forms of the animals in this group really appeal to me. The Class names in this Phylum are just as wonderful as the animals themselves: Ophiuroidea, Holothuroidea, Edrioasteroidea, Blastoidea, and Echinoidea, for example. Fossil echinoderms, especially from the Devonian and Mississippian ages, may be the most beautiful animals that ever lived (in my humble opinion). I could go on, but for now that’s enough of me waxing on about echinoderms.
The Mint released the coin with my starfish illustration this week and I am so pleased with how it turned out. The Mint’s engravers did a superb job capturing the fine details of this sea star, including its minute spots and the individual tube feet that are visible on the undersides of the curved-back tips of the arms. For a 13.92 mm diameter coin, the level of detail is remarkable.
This species – the Leather Star (Dermasterias imbricata) – lives on the west coast of North America. You can find more information about the coin at the Mint’s website here.
Along with the sea star, the Mint just released this coin with my illustration of Niagara Falls. Last summer I drove to Niagara Falls for this assignment and did all the touristy things so I could see and photograph the Falls from all different angles. It seemed there were gulls and tourists everywhere so I decided to include both in the design I submitted. This is a view from the base of Horseshoe Falls. You can find the full specs on the coin at the Mint’s website here.