2013 Ross Dependency - Antarctic Food Web

The 2013 Ross Dependency stamp issue is one not to be missed. It tells the story of the Antarctic food web, which enables a vast array of wildlife in the Ross Dependency to survive.

Issue information

This striking stamp issue highlights one of the marvels of Antarctica: its ‘food web’, which enables a vast array of wildlife to find the sustenance they need to survive. The key to its success – and the element that enables every one of these animals to endure – is a tiny, delicately pink crustacean called krill.

The stamps illustrate the Antarctic krill and four unique species whose lives depend on it. They all inhabit the Ross Dependency, an area of Antarctica administered by New Zealand and home to the scientific communities of Scott Base and McMurdo Station.

70c - Antarctic Krill (Euphausia superba)

Krill are an essential food source for most Antarctic animals. Measuring just six centimetres long and living for up to six years, they gather in swarms, with some containing up to 30,000 individuals per cubic metre. With a total biomass of more than 500 million tonnes – roughly twice that of humans – krill is probably the most abundant species on the planet.

$1.40 - Lesser Snow Petrel (Pagodroma nivea)

One of only three bird species that breed exclusively in Antarctica, and the only one of its kind with pure white plumage, the snow petrel grows to about 40 centimetres long and can live for up to 20 years. The name ‘petrel’ derives from the story of Peter the Apostle and his walking on water – a reflection of the bird’s appearing to run on the water to take off.

$1.90 - Adélie Penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae)

The Adélie penguin – named in 1840 by French explorer Jules Dumont d’Urville after his wife, Adélie – is one of only two species found on the Antarctic mainland; the other is the much larger emperor penguin. Easily recognised with its blue-black back and white chest and belly, the Adélie is a highly efficient hunter, with flippers that enable it to dive to depths of 175 metres in search of food.

$2.40 - Crabeater Seal (Lobodon carcinophaga)

The silvery grey crabeater seal is the world’s most numerous seal species. This skilled hunter can reach speeds of up to 25 kilometres per hour, dive to depths of 430 metres and stay submerged for as long as 11 minutes. Its scientific name, which means ‘lobe-toothed crab eater’, refers to its sieve-like tooth structure, which enables it to consume around 20 kilograms of krill every day.

$2.90 - Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)

At 30 metres long and weighing up to 170 tonnes, the blue whale is the largest animal ever known; its tongue can weigh as much as an elephant! It’s also the loudest, producing 188 decibels of sound that travel hundreds of kilometres underwater. The blue whale’s diet consists almost entirely of krill; lunging open-mouthed into swarms, it consumes up to 40 million a day.

Enrich the experience

For even more about the stamps and the complex ecosystem that makes up the Antarctic food web, order the 2013 Ross Dependency presentation pack. It includes the five gummed stamps, the miniature sheet and the first day cover, along with more information about the animals and their extraordinary stories of survival.

Order the collector’s collectable

Every year, New Zealand Post deems a select group of stamp issues as deserving of Limited Edition status – and this is one of them. Order yours and (subject to availability) you’ll acquire items that are exclusive to this sought-after collectable, including a specially designed first day cover signed by Rob Fenwick CNZM, Chair of Antarctica New Zealand, a unique numbered imperforate miniature sheet and colour separations of the $2.90 stamp. You’ll also learn more about the intricacies of the Antarctic food web in a booklet written by Rob Fenwick. With just 2,000 Limited Editions produced, we recommend that you place your order today!

Please note: These Ross Dependency stamps are only valid for postage purposes on mail posted from the Ross Dependency. 

70c - Antarctic Krill
(Euphausia superba)
Krill are an essential food
source for most Antarctic
animals. Measuring just six
centimetres long and living
for up to six years, they gather
in swarms, with some containing
up to 30,000 individuals per cubic metre. With a total biomass of
more than 500 million tonnes – roughly twice that of humans –
krill is probably the most abundant species on the planet.

Technical information

Date of issue: 20 November 2013
Number of stamps: Five gummed stamps
Stamps and first day covers designed by: Gregory Millen, Kapiti Coast, New Zealand
Denominations: 70c, $1.40, $1.90, $2.40 and $2.90
Printer and process: Southern Colour Print Ltd by offset lithography
Number of colours: Four process colours
Stamp size and format: 40mm x 30mm (horizontal)
Paper type: Stamps: Tullis Russell 104gsm red phosphor gummed stamp paper. 
Number of stamps per sheet: 25
Perforation gauge: 14 x 14
Period of sale: Unless stocks are exhausted earlier, these stamps will remain on sale until 19 November 2014.