Stamps show colourful side to Antarctica

16 November 2016

A bright pink sea star and an orange sea spider are among the strange creatures of the Antarctic sea floor featured on new stamps from New Zealand Post.

The Ross Dependency 2016 commemorative stamps, developed with the assistance of NIWA and Antarctica New Zealand, show a world teeming with life beneath the surface of the Ross Sea.

New Zealand Post Concept and Design Specialist, Helcia Knap, says people will be interested to see and learn about the colourful creatures that live on the Antarctic sea floor.

“Most people associate icy whites and blues with Antarctica, so we think they’ll be amazed by the vibrant, colourful life below the ice,” says Helcia Knap.

The spectacular sea floor animals are well adapted to life in a cold, and often dark, environment.

“There is concern about how a rapidly changing ocean will affect these animals, and how they might cope with warmer sea temperatures and more acidic water,” says Antarctica New Zealand General Manager Communications Jeanine Foster. “These stamps show just how beautiful and unique these creatures are.”

The images were captured by NIWA marine ecologists either on dives or by using a Deep Towed Imaging System (DTIS) which was developed by NIWA to record video and still photographs at depths down to 6,000 metres.

“The Ross Sea seafloor is home to thousands of animals, many of which cannot be found anywhere else,” says NIWA marine ecologist Dr Vonda Cummings.

“We study these amazing creatures to gain some insight into the role they play at the base of the food chain and how that might be changing. We are delighted to share some of the incredible diversity we see under the sea with a much wider audience.”

The stamps go on sale on 16 November and can be ordered online at www.nzpost.co.nz/stamps. Please note, these stamps are not valid for postage within New Zealand.