Covered in ice for much of the year and with seawater temperatures below zero, who would guess that beneath the surface, the Ross Sea is a world teeming with life? You could discover the creatures of the Antarctic Sea Floor with this Ross Dependency stamp issue.
The Ross Sea sea floor is home to some of the most diverse invertebrate communities in the Southern Ocean. In stark contrast to the animals living above the ice, the sea floor creatures are often colourful and definitely unique. More than half of Antarctic marine species cannot be found anywhere else. They generally grow slowly, are often very large, and can also live for a long time.
Because of the stable and narrow range of conditions they experience in their habitats now, there is concern about how these animals will survive in a rapidly changing ocean. A great example is how they might cope with temperatures warming above those they currently live in, and the modifications that this will cause to their wider ecosystem. Yet a warming ocean may also enable some organisms to expand their distributions and the introduction of new species may also bring challenges to these isolated communities.
These spectacular seafloor animals are very well adapted to life in this cold, often dark, and unique environment, where conditions have not changed for millions of years, and where they have evolved in isolation. The beauty, diversity and uniqueness of the animals found there is exemplified by this commemorative stamp issue.
First Day Covers
These vibrant stamps were available on two first day covers - both featuring further imagery of species living below the surface of the Ross Sea.
Ross Dependency Postage in New Zealand
Ross Dependency stamps are not valid for postage in New Zealand. Click here to find out more.
Product Listing for 2016 Ross Dependency - Creatures of the Antarctic Sea Floor
Click on image to enlarge.
Single $1.00 'Stalked crinoid' gummed stamp.
These beautiful stalked crinoids (sea lilies) are found on seamounts north of the Ross Sea. They are suspension feeders, using their stalks to raise them into the currents above the sea floor. Their feather-like arms trap fine food particles in the water and transfer the food to their mouths at the centre of the feeding arms.
Single $1.80 'Sea star' gummed stamp.
Odontaster validus is the most common sea star of the Antarctic and is found in large numbers in the Ross Sea, and also on some of the seamounts north of the Ross Sea. This bright pink species has a voracious appetite – it actively hunts prey of many types, but will also scavenge the remains of other sea creatures and can even feed on plankton.
Single $2.20 'Sponge' gummed stamp.
Haliclona dancoi is a relatively common Antarctic sponge that forms frilly, lumpy single or multiple vases. Food and oxygen is captured from seawater that is sucked in through tiny holes in the outer surface of the sponge, exiting through openings on the inside of the vase. The sponge is soft and pliable.
Single $2.70 'Hydroid' gummed stamp.
This hydroid may look like a flower, but it is an animal. This large and beautiful species was first recorded in the Antarctic during a 2008 voyage to the Ross Sea. Although most hydroids are colonial organisms, Branchiocerianthus is a giant, solitary hydroid that feeds by capturing food particles and small planktonic organisms from the water.
Single $3.30 'Sea spider' gummed stamp.
Sea spiders are only loosely related to land spiders. They feed on sponges, bryozoans, and other sessile organisms, using a long proboscis to pierce their prey and suck out the insides. Their bodies are small in comparison to their long legs; so small that their intestines extend into their legs. Eggs are brooded by males, carried under the body on specialised appendages called ovigers.
|Miniature Sheet||Mint, used or cancelled miniature sheet.||$11.00|
|First Day Cover||First day cover with gummed stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue.||$11.50|
|Miniature Sheet First Day Cover||First day cover with miniature sheet affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue.||$11.50|
Written by NIWA, the presentation pack explained the unique attributes of each species featured on the stamps, the characteristics of the environment they live in and future threats that they may face. Inside you could also find the full set of stamps, the miniature sheet and the first day cover - all in one beautifully presented package.
Still available to purchase. Click here.
|Date of issue:||16 November 2016|
|Number of stamps:||Five gummed|
|Denominations:||$1.00, $1.80, $2.20, $2.70 & $3.30|
|Stamps and miniature sheet designed by:||Hannah Stancliffe-White, New Zealand Post, Wellington, New Zealand|
|Printer and process:||Southern Colour Print Ltd, New Zealand by offset lithography|
|Number of colours:||Four Process colours plus litho varnish|
|Stamp size and format:||25mm x 50mm|
|Paper type:||Tullis Russell 104gsm red phosphor gummed stamp paper|
|Number of stamps per sheet:||25|
|Perforation gauge:||14.4 x 14|
|Period of sale:||These stamps remained on sale until 16 November 2017.|