With our series Luminous Marine Life we dive into the depths of the oceans. To celebrate the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, we are embarking on an undersea adventure that shows just how fascinating and colourful the underwater world can be. With a mintage of 65,000, the 12 innovative 3 euro coloured coins in the series, 4 of which will be issued each year over 3 years, will not only make your eyes light up, the coins actually do that themselves thanks to special lighting effects.
As improbable and magical as the sea creatures featured on the coins may seem, they really do exist. Even though some of them live in the perpetual darkness of the deep seas, where no ray of sunlight penetrates, they all have extraordinary luminous qualities. They flash, sparkle and glow and change colour when necessary.
The same applies to the coins themselves, which glow when exposed to ultraviolet light in a way that is both exciting and piques our sense of scientific curiosity. A dedicated ultraviolet torch will help you to experience the charming creatures of Luminous Marine Life in full.
The series’ dedicated UV torch gives off a special type of light that appears to bring the underwater creatures on the coins to life as they change colour and glow vividly. Tiny creatures, which only become visible when you shine the UV torch on them, also appear here and there next to the main characters in the series, adding an element of surprise.
On some of the 12 coins, only the edge of a porthole can be seen, beyond which there is only emptiness and darkness. Coins on which nothing can be seen? Is that some kind of bad joke? Not at all. Shine the beam of the UV torch on the coins and you will be amazed.
Stony Coral, the fifth 3-euro coin in the Luminous Marine Life series, transports you right into the most species-rich of marine habitats – the coral reef. This is because stony corals use themselves as material to build fantastic living worlds where other sea creatures also thrive, including the clownfish, with its bright orange body and three black-edged white stripes.
Hermatypic or reef-building corals can have the most diverse growth forms. Most stony coral species excrete calcium carbonate at their base and a calcareous skeleton is formed through a symbiosis with zooxanthellae, unicellular microalgae. They reproduce by forming new coral calyxes on top of old ones or when coral polyps become independent. If undisturbed they will continue doing so as long as the seawater remains clean and there is enough sunlight.
Some species of stony coral can live for several hundred years, which may explain why at certain points in the history of Earth, stony coral formed entire islands and archipelagos over thousands of years, such as the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Maldives. Moreover, about 600,000 years ago, corals began to build the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. Today, with its 359 species of stony coral, the reef is the largest structure created by living creatures on earth and provides habitat for a multitude of other species.