March 26, 2016

2407 UNITED KINGDOM (South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands) - The Antarctic fur seal

2407 Youg Bull Fur Seal on Bird Island

Part of the South Georgia islands, so located south to the Antarctic Convergence, in Antarctic waters, Bird Island is currently a Site of Special Scientific Interest and hosts a biological research station. Even if has only  4.8km long and 800m wide, it is a paradise for many species of sea birds, thing noted as early as in 1775 by its discoverer, James Cook, who named the island. However, the largest population on the island is not of a birds species, but a mammals species, namely Antarctic fur seal (65,000, which means around 1 for every 6 m2 of the island).

The Antarctic fur seal (Arctocephalus gazella) is a fairly large animal and has a short and broad snout compared with others in the family. Adult males are dark brown in colour. Females and juveniles tend to be grey with a lighter undersides, but the colour patterns are highly variable. Pups are dark brown on birth, almost black in colour. They grow up to 2m long and weigh 91kg to 215kg. Males are substantially bigger than females, but live for about 15 years, while the females live up to 25.

Males breed polygynously; a strong male may have more than a dozen female partners in a single season. Females gestate for just over a year, giving birth in November or December. Pups are weaned at about four months old. Juveniles may spend several years at sea before returning to natal sites to mate for the first time. The usual food supply is krill, of which each Antarctic fur seal eats about a ton in a year. Around 95% of the world population (two to four million individuals) breeds at the Island of South Georgia.

About the stamps
The first stamp is part of the series Biodiversity, issued on December 21, 2015, and comprising six stamps with the same face value, Airmail Postcard rate:
Greater burnet / Aceana magellanica
Tussac beetle / Hydromedion sparsutum
Macaroni penguin / Eudyptes chrysolophus
Sea spider / Pycnogonida
Crested bigscale / Poromitra crassiceps - It's on the postcard 2407
Leopard seal / Hydrurga leptonyx 

The second stamp is part of the series Ships, Scientists & Explorers, designed by Andrew Robinson and issued on January 5, 2014:
Bill Tilman 'Mischief' 1964 (0.01 GBP) - It's on the postcard 2407
Alister Hardy 'William Scoresby' 1927 (0.02 GBP)
Stanley Kemp 'Discovery' 1925 (0.05 GBP)
Ernest Shackleton 'Endurance' 1914 (0.10 GBP)
Robert Cushman Murphy 'Daisy' 1912 (0.50 GBP)
Wilhelm Filchner 'Deutschland' 1911 (0.70 GBP)
Otto Nordenskjöld 'Antarctic' 1902 (0.80 GBP)
Carl Anton Larsen 'Jason' 1894 (1.00 GBP)
• Karl Schrader 'Moltke' 1882 (1.25 GBP)
James Weddell 'Jane' 1823 (2.00 GBP)
Fabian von Bellingshausen 'Vostok' 1819 (3.00 GBP)
James Cook 'Resolution' 1775 (5.00 GBP)

Bird Island, South Georgia - Wikipedia
Antarctic fur seals - Wikipedia 

Sender: Diego Cervantes
Sent from King Edward Point (SGSSI / United Kingdom), on 27.01.2016
Photo: Mr. Ben Osborne

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