SHARKS

Sharks

            30 June 1992            20c, $1.00, $1.50, $1.80                        Mint and CTO        $4.50
                                                                                                            FDC                       $5.00


Technical Details

        Release Date:                    30 June 1992
        Tablet Values:                   20c, $1.00, $1.50, $1.80
        Artist:                                Jane Thatcher
        Printer:                              Leigh-Mardon Pty Ltd
        Process:                            Lithography
        Paper:                               CA Watermark
        Stamp Size:                       31.76 x 48.00 mm
        Perforation Gauge:            14.5 x 15.0
        Pane Format:                    50 (2 x 25)
        Mint and CTO:                 $4.50
        First Day Cover:               $5.00


Pitcairn and its way of life are inextricably bound up with the sea and its moods, with what travels across its surface and what lives in it.  One ocean inhabitant frequently seen in the waters usrrounding the islands fin the Pitcairn group is the shark.

Although respectful of the danger some species can present, the Pitcairners do not fear the shark.  Those who confront them most often, the scuba divers and spear fishermen, are well versed in the ways of shark behaviour and act appropriately in their presence.

Being fish without scales, sharks are not eaten by the Seventh Day Adventists of Pitcairn.  Small numbers of the young are taken for their teeth which are set in the mouths of the wooden sharks carved by the curio makers on the island.  Apart form that there is little shark fishing.

It is not known whether the practice persists but some years ago one or two of the more daring young men were wont to place a lasso over the tails of sharks at Oeno so they could enjoy being towed about the lagoon by their 'steads'?  At least one of the young joy-riders was customarily equipped at such times with a shark gun primed with a shotgun shell whcih had the power to change the mind of a belligerent fish when jabbed against its head.

Most experts seem to agree the ancestors of today's sharks lived 350 million years ago.  They are survivors.  There are between 250 and 300 living species, most of which are found in tropical and sub-tropical waters, ranging in adult size from 150 millimetres (six inches) to 18.3 metres (sixty feet).

20c stamp:  Carcharhinus galapahensis, [vernacular name] Grey Reef Whaler, grows to 3.7 m and is found int he eastern Pacific and in parts of the Atlantic.  The young are very aggressive and adults potentially dangerous, but only one confirmed human fatality.  They patrol flat areas of the reef, sometimes in water so shallow their backs are exposed.

$1.00 stamp:  Eugomphodus taurus, (Common) Whitetip Reef shark of the Pacific, grows to 2.2 m (7 feet).  They are widespread throughout the Indo Pacific.

$1.50 stamp:  Carcharhinus melanopterus, (Small) Blacktip (Reef) shark of the Pacific/Whaler Shark.  With a widespread distribution throughout the Indo Pacific, Red Sea and parts of the Mediterranean, they are found inside lagoons on shallow sand flats.  They are nocturnal, resting in caves or beneath coral outcrops during the day.

$1.80 stamp:  Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos, Grey Reef shark, grows to 2.5 m (8 feet); distribution - Central, Western Pacific and Indian Ocean.  These are one of the most familiar sharks to divers in deep waters on the seaward side of central Pacific reefs.