2001 was the fifth consecutive year that New Zealand Post marked the Chinese Lunar Calendar. Continuing this very popular Lunar series, Marine Reptiles commemorated the Year of the Snake.
The Marine Reptiles issue featured six visitors to New Zealand waters comprising four sea-turtles and two sea-snakes. To celebrate the 2001 Year of the Snake - Marine Reptiles, a special miniature sheet was also produced incorporating the two sea-snake stamps.
Sea-turtles and sea-snakes are widespread in tropical and sub-tropical seas, but are rarely seen in colder waters. In this country marine reptiles are most often found in northern New Zealand. Although few sightings are reported, marine reptiles are sometimes seen at sea, caught in nets or found sick, injured or exhausted near the shore line.
Believed to be descended from a family of Australian land-snakes, sea-snakes inhabit the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific. Although they have a dangerous reputation, sea-snakes tend to be curious rather than aggressive. They are usually venomous and should be treated with caution, however most bites happen on fish trawlers, when sea-snakes are hauled aboard with the catch.
The Banded Sea-snake visits New Zealand in the warmer months with fewer than 10 recorded sightings since 1880, while the Yellow-bellied Sea-snake is seen more frequently in northern New Zealand, although it is likely that many go unnoticed. Both are venomous.
Turtles have lived on earth for a very long time. The first turtle fossils date back to the Triassic period, a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth, some 200 million years ago. There are approximately eight different species of sea-turtles in the world and they generally live in tropical seas.
The Leathery, Hawksbill, Green and Loggerhead Turtles are all found throughout the tropics near coral or rocky reefs or in shallow bays and lagoons. The Leathery Turtle, weighing up to 700kg and reaching 2.8m in total length, is the largest of all living turtles and the most commonly found in New Zealand waters. The Hawksbill Turtle has a marbled shell in shades of brown with yellow below from which the commercial description ‘tortoise shell’ is derived. Both the Green and Loggerhead Turtles are occasional visitors to New Zealand, the Green Turtle was first recorded in 1895 and since 1980 at least 12 have been recorded in our waters, the Loggerhead Turtle was first recorded slightly earlier in 1885 with at least twelve sightings since 1950.
The 2001 Year of the Snake - Marine Reptiles stamp sheets were the very first stamp issue on which a new New Zealand Post corporate logo appeared in colour - the logo appeared once on each sheet in the bottom right selvage.
Incorporating the $1.50 and $2.00 stamps from this issue this miniature sheet commemorated 2001 as the Year of the Snake - Marine Reptiles.
The Marine Reptiles stamp sheets were the very first issue on which the New Zealand Post logo appeared in colour. The new corporate logo appeared on each sheet once.
Product Listing for 2001 Year of the Snake - Marine Reptiles
Click on image to enlarge.
|Date of issue:||1 February 2001|
|Number of stamps:||Six|
|Denominations and designs:||40c Green Turtle, 80c Leathery Turtle, 90c Loggerhead Turtle, $1.30 Hawksbill Turtle, $1.50 Banded Sea-snake and $2.00 Yellow-bellied Sea-snake|
|Stamps and first day cover designed by:||Veda Austin, Christchurch, New Zealand|
|Miniature sheet and miniature sheet first day cover designed by:||Lindy Fisher, Auckland, New Zealand|
|Printer and process:||Southern Colour Print, New Zealand, by offset lithography|
|Number of colours:||Four process colours|
|Miniature sheet colours:||Four process colours pus one special|
|Stamp size and format:||30mm x 40mm vertical|
|Miniature sheet size:||125mm x 90mm|
|Number of stamps per sheet:||100 stamps plus one strip of 10 gutter images|
|Paper type:||103 gsm red phosphor coated litho stamp paper|
|Special blocks:||Plate/imprint blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least six stamps from a sheet. Barcode, value blocks and logo blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least two stamps from a sheet. Barcode blocks were available in both A and B formats for sheet stamps.|
|Period of sale:||These stamps remained on sale until 31 January 2002.|