Sunday, May 29, 2011

Whales of Southern Ocean

There are two groups of modern whale: the filter-feeding baleen whales, and the echo-locating toothed whales. Three families of baleen whale are represented in the Southern Ocean (rorqual, right whale and pygmy right whale), and five families of toothed whale (sperm whale, diminutive sperm whale, beaked whale, dolphin and porpoise). 
These fascinating mammals are the focus of the Ross Dependency 2010 stamp issue. Consisting of five large stamps (50mm x 30mm) with differ face value and one miniature sheet.

60c - Sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus
At up to 18 metres long for males and 12 metres for females, the sperm whale is the largest toothed predator on Earth and probably the most abundant of the large whales. Sperm whales are characterised by their substantial rectangular heads, and have the biggest brains on the planet, weighing in at a hefty 9.5 kilograms.
$1.20 - Minke whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata and B. Bonarensis
The minke whale is the smallest of the rorquals owing to its sharply pointed head, and is often called the ‘little piked whale’. There are two species of minke whale in the Southern Ocean: the Antarctic minke and the dwarf minke. The dwarf minke reaches about eight metres in length and has a distinctive white patch across the flipper
$1.90 - Sei whale Balaenoptera borealis
The sei whale gets its name from the Norwegian word seje, a small fish that was considered the whale’s preferred prey by Norwegian whalers. The sei whale was regarded by whalers as the sleekest and fastest of all the rorquals. Unlike the other rorquals, sei whales prefer to skim feed at the surface by swimming along with their mouths open.

$2.40 - Killer whale Orcinus orca
Killer whales, sometimes called orca, are toothed whales and the largest members of the dolphin family. They are highly distinctive with their black and white colour patterns, white eye patches and conspicuous dorsal fins. Killer whales are remarkable hunters and are sometimes referred to as the wolves of the sea.
$2.90 - Humpback whale Megaptera novaeangliae
The humpback whale is famous for its acrobatic leaps and remarkable songs. They reach about 17 metres in length and are easily recognised with their long, narrow flippers. The Southern Ocean humpbacks differ from those of the north Pacific by having considerably more white on their flippers and on the undersides of the throat and belly.

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