The iconic Oceania humpback whale was hunted almost to extinction last century, and while its recovery has progressed in the Pacific, it remains endangered. Today, the Niue Whale Sanctuary is one of the best places in the world to view this amazing creature.
The humpback whale is the flagship species for the 2016 Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme Year of the Whale - a campaign promoting the conservation of these impressive animals. Humpback whales are well known for their spectacular breaching and beautiful songs, and each animal can be identified by a unique pattern of markings on the underside of its tail flukes.
Humpback whales have a similar lifespan to humans, and undertake long annual migrations between summer feeding grounds in the Antarctic, and winter breeding grounds in the Pacific. In the course of its life, a humpback whale will swim a distance equivalent to going to the moon and back.
Each year from July to October humpback whales arrive in Niue’s waters to nurse their young. This is the perfect time to visit Niue and view the gymnastics of these spectacular creatures - sometimes just 20 metres from the shore. If you’re more adventurous, Niue is one of only a handful of places in the world where you are allowed to swim with the whales!
Stamps Celebrating the Magnificent Humpback Whale
The four stamps in this special stamp issue featured humpback whales in Niue exhibiting a range of behaviours for which they’re famous.
Collectables Promoting Whale Conservation
Also available as part of this stamp issue are a miniature sheet and two first day covers. The miniature sheet features a close-up of the throat pleats of a humpback whale. The two first day covers feature more imagery of these amazing animals in Niue’s pristine waters.
About the Photographer:
Olive Andrews is the Marine Programme Manager for Conservation International, based in New Zealand. She is a marine scientist working with the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium to investigate the abundance and distribution of endangered Oceania humpback whales. Through the Niue Whale Research Project, Olive works in partnership with local organisation, Oma Tafua, and the Niue Government for the research, conservation and management of whales in the Niue Whale Sanctuary.
Product Listing for Niue 2016 Humpback Whales
Single 30c 'Fluke up Dive' gummed stamp.
When a humpback whale lifts up its tail flukes, it indicates that it’s taking a deep or extended dive. The unique markings and colour patterns on the underside of each whale’s tail allow researchers to identify them individually and track their movements across the Pacific.
Single $1.40 'Blow' gummed stamp.
A humpback whale’s lungs are the size of a small car and when they exhale, warm air from inside the lungs mixes with cooler air on the sea surface and condenses, forming a mist that we call the ‘blow’. Humpback whales have two blowholes as opposed to toothed whales, which have one.
Single $2.00 'Spyhop' gummed stamp.
A humpback whale has eyes on either side of its head. In order to get a good look above water it raises its head and eyes to the waterline.
Single $4.00 'Breach' gummed stamp.
Whales breach for many reasons. When they slap their bodies on the surface it makes a loud sound that helps them to communicate with other whales. They also do this to remove parasites like barnacles, and for play.
Mint, used or cancelled miniature sheet.
|First Day Cover||First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue.||$8.20|
|Miniature Sheet First Day Cover||First day cover with miniature sheet affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue.||$8.20|
|Date of issue:||3 August 2016|
|Number of stamps:||Four gummed stamps|
|Denominations:||30c, $1.40, $2.00, $4.00|
|Stamps, miniature sheet and first day covers designed by:||Jonathan Gray, New Zealand Post, Wellington, New Zealand|
|Printer and process:||Collectables and Solutions Centre, New Zealand Post, Whanganui,
|Number of colours:||Four process colours|
|Stamp size and format:||34.55mm x 35mm (vertical)|
|Paper type:||Tullis Russell 104gsm red phosphor gummed stamp paper|
|Number of stamps per sheet:||12|
|Perforation gauge:||14.28 x 14.47|
|Period of sale:||These stamps remained on sale until 2 August 2017.|