Now almost a cultural phenomenon, Discovery Channels Shark Week is broadcast in almost every major market around the world, over 70 countries. First showing in July 1988, its popularity led to it becoming an annual event. Originally meant to promote awareness and conservation of these simply magnificent animals, it has veered into more sensationalist territory in recent years, although remains a positive influence on views towards sharks.
This year, like in 2015, in conjunction with GovMint/MCM, there are to be proof silver coins issued celebrating different shark species. A short while ago there was the first issue of a coin depicting that most gentle of the family, the plankton-feeding Whale Shark, the largest fish in the world. Now a second Shark Week coin has launched with a subject far less mellow in nature.
The Bull Shark has a reputation of being highly aggressive, likely caused by their territorial nature. Because of their preference for hunting in warm, murky, shallow water, they can and do bite humans. Their ability to thrive in both salt and fresh water means they’re often found in lakes and rivers and it’s considered likely that many near-shore attacks attributed to other sharks are probably bull shark attacks. The larger female can reach lengths of over 3 metres and weigh over 300 kg. Combined with a staggering bite force of up to 5,914 Newtons, the highest of any cartilaginous fish and one of the highest in the natural world, these are potent predators. With a diet consisting of mainly bony fish, even including other bull sharks, they are prey to few other animals, bigger sharks, Orca, and saltwater crocodiles for example.
The coin is produced in fine 0.999 silver and devoid of any inserts or applications, being clean struck to a proof finish. The design is very clean also, just the inscription “THE BULL SHARK” on the reverse face, although the word “THE” seems unnecessary. The shark artwork is very well done, definitely one of the better and more dynamic representations on a coin. I’ve heard a comment about a relative lack of detail which I don’t agree with. This shark, like most, has evolved a clean, hydrodynamic skin and profile. There’s no detail large enough to be realistically shown at this scale and we think it’s a great job.
The obverse shows the Fijiian coat-of-arms surrounded by inscriptions showing the issuer, date, and the denomination of five dollars. The coin is available in two versions, a 1 oz and a 65 mm diameter 5 oz. The Whale Shark coin issued for Tristan de Cunha has no 5 oz version, but is instead offered in 1 oz gold. There are only 199 being minted, and they’re sold by GovMint for a not inconsiderable $3995.00 in NGC Gem-proof grade (extra $500 for PF70). Strangely, last year it was the Fijiian coin that was available in gold, and in the more affordable ¼ oz format. The silver 1 oz coin comes in a capsule inside a blue pouch, the 5 oz in a box. Available to order now, it should ship later this month from Modern Coin Mart. A very nice coin for the shark fan starting at $59.95 for the 1 oz, rising to $395.00 for the 5 oz. The 1 oz Whale Shark silver coin is identically priced.