The Sir Peter Scott Commemorative Expedition to the Pitcairn Islands
 
            11 September 1992            20c, $1.00, $1.50, $1.80                Mint and CTO        $4.50
                                                                                                             FDC                       $5.00

Technical Details

        Release Date:                    11 September 1992
        Tablet Values:                   20c, $1.00, $1.50, $1.80
        Artist:                                Ian Loe
        Printer:                              Joh. Ensched, Netherlands
        Process:                            Lithography
        Paper:                               CA Watermark
        Stamp Size:                       31.19 x 48.26 mm
        Perforation Gauge:            14 x 14¾
        Pane Format:                    50 (2 x 25)
        Mint and CTO:                 $4.50
        First Day Cover:               $5.00


In March 1989, the Governor of Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands received from the Zoology Department of Cambridge University the first firm proposals for the 'Henderson Island Scientific Expedition'.

Sir Peter Scott, CH, CBE, DSC, FRS, eminent artist, naturalist and conservationist - who visited Pitcairn in 1973 - kindly agreed in July 1989 to act as patron to the expedition.  Following his untimely death later that year, the expedition organisers adopted the nomenclature 'The Sir Peter Scott Commemorative Expedition to the Pitcairn Islands'.

With the primary intention of conducting a full geological, biological and archaeological inventory of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Henderson Island, the expedition was also to provide a management plan for the future conservation of the Island.  Additionally, it encompassed specialist studies in ornithology, entomology, malacology, botany, oceanography, and marine biology throughout the Pitcairn Group.

Leader Dr Michael Brooke with Graham Wragg, expedition member and owner of the ketch Te Manu, made an initial, brief visit to Pitcairn and Henderson in January 1990.  After many months of planning, the first members of the expedition party reached Henderson in January 1991.  The field phase, involving eighteen scientists, three support staff and seven field assistants, who participated in one or more of the five 3 month long expedition modules, ended on 31 March 1992.

Changeover of personnel was undertaken by charter yacht from 1200 nautical miles distant Tahiti, while movements between the islands of the Pitcairn Group were co-ordinated by the Te Manu.

20c stamp:  Montastrea sp. with acropora spp. coral sticks:  Henderson Island is a coral atoll uplifted by approximately 30 metres, possibly compensating for the loading by the one million year old volcano of Pitcairn, 200 km to the W-S-W.  This uplift has stranded a former lagoon in the island's interior with remarkably preserved coral colonies and large areas of coral stick rubble.  The great diversity of species and evidence of prodigious coral growth suggest an excellent interchange between lagoonal waters and the surrounding ocean.

$1.00 stamp:  Henderson Island Sandalwood (Santalum hendersonense.F.BR.):  Of the sixty eight higher plant species recorded from Henderson Island, eight are thought to occur nowhere else; an interesting example of these endemic species is the Henderson Island Sandalwood.  Other members of this genus are well known for their fragrant pale wood, which yields aromatic oils used in perfumery and incense.  Sandalwoods are parasitic, deriving part of their nutrition from the roots of other species.  Expedition mapping has shown S. hendersonense to be common on Henderson, occurring in a variety of habitats.

$1.50 stamp:  Murphy's Petrel (Pterodroma ultima):  Murphy's Petrel is a sturdy, long-winged, gull-sized grey seabird with a pale face, strong, hooked black beak and webbed feet.  It feeds on squid caught far out to sea and only comes ashore to care for its single white egg and then slow-growing downy chick on the remotest coral islands along the southern edge of Polynesia.  The majority of the world's population of this petrel probably breed on Ducie Island.  At other seasons it is dispersed as far as the waters off the Hawaiian Islands and California.

$1.80 stamp:  Henderson Hawkmoth (Hippotion hateleyi):  In 1986 a single specimen of a new hawkmoth, Hippotion hateleyi, was collected on Henderson Island.  It was identified as a new species by Dr Jeremy Holloway at the Natural History Museum in London.  Although the other hawkmoth species in the Pacific Ocean region are widely dispersed, this particular hawkmoth appears unique to Henderson.  Several specimens have been collected by the Expedition but even now little is known about the hawkmoth's habits.

With acknowledgement and thanks to Expedition members and Dr T. Spencer, Department of Geography, Cambridge University.