UNESCO
International Year of the Ocean
 
 

UNESCO International Year of the Ocean

       16 December 1998             20c, 90c, $1.80, $3.00                 Mint and CTO         $5.90
                                                                                                       FDC                       $6.40
                                                                                                       Miniature sheetlet    $5.90 



Technical Details

Release Date:             16 December 1998
Tablet Values:            20c, 90c, $1.80, $3.00
Artist:                         Paul Martinson, New Zealand
Printer:                       Southern Colour Print, Dunedin, New Zealand
Process:                     Litho Offset
Paper:                        Peterborough Non Phosphor (PPC)
Stamp Size:                30 x 45.71 mm
Perforation Gauge:     14 per 2 cm
Pane Size:                  [50 stamps in 2 panes each of 25 stamps]
Mint and CTO:           $5.90
First Day Cover:         $6.40 


This special issue of stamps, produced to mark the International Year of the Ocean, is also being released as a miniature sheet, due to the special nature of the design.  The sheetlet is being released in limited numbers and it is identical to the individual stamps of this issue.



Technical Details - Miniature Sheet

Release Date:             16 December 1998
Tablet Values:            $5.90 (sheetlet of 4 stamps)
Artist:                         Paul Martinson, New Zealand
Printer:                       Southern Colour Print, Dunedin, New Zealand
Process:                     Litho Offset
Paper:                        Peterborough Non Phosphor (PPC)
Sheetlet Size:              75.71 x 75.71 mm


The First Day Cover will feature the four individual stamps arranged around the International Year of the Ocean logo.

In this issue, Paul Martinson has produced a colourful view of how Pitcairners interact with the ocean about them.  The four Pitcairn Islands total 42.85 kmē in area, Henderson Island at 37 kmē being the largest.  Due to the distance between Pitcairn and Ducie of some 470 km, the Pitcairn Islands has responsibility for an EEZ of some 880,000 kmē of ocean, more than 20,000 times its land mass.

Rock fishing is a regular activity on Pitcairn, but on occasion, a public fishing day will be declared and two longboats will be put to see carrying all who wish to go fishing for the day.  From one, some of the younger folk will swim ashore, sack and grain (spear) in hand, to gather crabs for bait.  Back aboard, the bait is distributed and one boat will stay close to the shore, fishing for rock fish, of which the grey Nanwe is the most common, while the other will head for deeper water and catch larger species including the purple/red Faafaia shown in the $1.80 stamp.  On other days, the locals will put to sea in their canoes, which today are flat-bottomed, plywood 'whalers' around 3.5 metres i length and powered by outboard engines.  Pots are set for slipper lobster, which is a valuable trade item on passing ships.

Between June and September, migratory whales are sometimes seen off-shore and on occasion, stay around the island for several days.  Later in the year, barracouta and tuna can be caught from the longboats, trolling off the coast.

Frigate birds are shown on the 20c and $3.00 stamps.  Pitcairners sometimes bring these home as chicks from Oeno Island and raise them as pets.  They will follow the longboats at sea, swooping down when called to snatch a breadstick being held high for them.

For the first time in many years, the rare Murphy's Petrel nested on Pitcairn this year.  The recently completed rat eradication project, during which all of the feral cats were either shot or died of secondary poisoning, has seen a dramatic decrease in predators.  If the project has been successful, we can expect Pitcairn's bird life to increase significantly.

Just off the shore Down Isaac, lies the wreck of the Cornwallis which sunk after drifting onto rocks near the sore in January 1875.  The form of this vessel's hull remains quite distinct.  The 90c stamp shows a diver investigating a brass porthole while an encrusted anchor lies embedded on the seafloor behind him.  This wreck has survived the ravages of time somewhat better than the Bounty wreck.  However, the Bounty sunk some 85 years earlier and was burned to the waterline first.  Cornwallis was constructed of both iron and timber and through being less famous than the Bounty, has attracted less interest and therefore, the pillaging of visiting divers.

Ships Landing Point is the significant geographical feature of the $3.00 stamp.  Towering above Bounty Bay and the harbour, it stands as a beacon to mark the landing place for Pitcairners returning from the sea.