Wednesday, 12 October 2016

1992 Antarctic Seals.

        This is the third New Zealand issue during the period when the Ross Dependency didn't issue its own postage stamps. While the name Ross Dependency does appear on the stamps, this issue was valid for postage throughout New Zealand like any other New Zealand stamp.

        The issue celebrates some of the seals found in the dependency. It also highlights that fact that even in this cold, harsh region, there is life to be found in abundance. I think the best it the one that can be seen to the left, showing a mother with her calf.

45c - Weddell Seal.
The Weddell seal is dark grey or black and covered with irregular spots, patches and streaks. Weddell seals live in inshore Antarctic waters, rarely straying from land or the pack ice. During winter they live mainly in the water, feeding beneath the ice where the temperature is warmer. They keep breathing holes open by scraping the ice with their teeth. In the spring the cows form colonies and bear pups, then mate again several weeks later. For the remainder of the summer the seals lie around on the ice, swimming, and feeding more as winter approaches.

50c - Crabeater Seal.
Crabeater seals are brownish grey with brown ring-shaped markings on their shoulders and flanks. They have silver grey sides and bellies, and dark limbs. Their fur fades to a creamy white in summer. Like Weddells, Crabeater seals live on and beneath the drifting pack ice in the Antarctic. They are specialised krill feeders, not feeding on crabs as their name suggests. Crabeaters are gregarious seals. They can often be seen using their fore flippers to propel themselves rapidly across the ice.

65c - Leopard Seal.
The Leopard seal is dark grey on the back with dark spots, changing to light grey with light spots on the belly. It is a solitary seal and lives in the outer pack ice of the Antarctic and north through the subantarctic islands to New Zealand. Leopard seals have been reported as far north as the Cook Islands. While the Leopard seal looks ungainly on land, it can move quite quickly across the ice with a caterpillar-like motion, not using its fore flippers at all. In the water it often hangs vertically with just its nostrils showing above the surface.

80c - Ross Seal.
The Ross seal reaches just over two metres in length. It is a plump seal with a short snout and large flippers. Ross seals are dark grey with a darker brown head and flippers and a whitish belly. The new-born pups are white. Very little is known about this solitary seal. They are not common and live almost wholly in the heavy pack ice along the fringe of Antarctica. Rare stragglers have made it to temperate waters. Ross seals eat squid, krill and fish. When disturbed they emit an unusual, tremulous cooing sound which is followed by clicks and a snort.

$1.00 - Southern Elephant Seal.
These, the largest of all seals, are distinguished by their inflatable trunk-like proboscis. They live in subantarctic waters and sometimes in Antarctic localities, especially between February and May. During the winter they remain at sea, feeding, and in spring move to their breeding grounds where they stay throughout summer. A dominant male can have harems of 20-40 females with subordinate males waiting around the edges for an opportunity to mate. The males fight by roaring and posturing, often engaging in chest-to-chest combat, slashing at each other with their large canine teeth.

$1.80 - Hooker's Sea Lion.
Hooker's Sea Lions live in New Zealand's subantarctic islands, particularly Enderby Island in the Auckland Islands group. The total population size is small (between 5,000 - 7,000). The adult males take up beach territories in the Auckland Islands in October and gather harems of about 12 females around them. Pups are born in late December and January and are weaned about six or seven months later, although they often remain with their mothers until the following summer. Hooker's Sea Lions eat small fish along with crabs, penguins and other birds.

An unused First Day Cover for this issue.

I cover sent to China with four of the 45c value.

Technical information

Date of Issue: 8 April 1992
Designers: Lindy Fisher, Auckland, NZ
Printer:Southern Colour Print, New Zealand
Stamp Size: 35mm x 30mm
Sheet Size:100 stamps per sheet
Process: Lithography
Perforation Gauge: 13.5
Paper Type: Peterborough Paper Convertors, red phosphor coated, unwatermarked

Some of the images in this post were used with permission from the illustrated catalogue of Stamps NZ
You can visit their website and On-line Catalogue at,

Some Information or images for this post came from.

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