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British Antarctic Territory – Corals






Deep on the ocean floor, wherever rocky surfaces occur it is likely
you’ll find habitats of corals. While many associate coral with warmer
waters these striking creatures of the deep are also common in the cold
waters of the Southern Ocean and the British Antarctic Territory.






Far beneath the chilly waves of the British Antarctic Territory, across
the rocky seafloor, thousands of colonies of corals in all different
shapes, colours, and sizes can be found. Corals are filter-feeders
which, as with all filter-feeders in the deep sea, survive off the
detritus that falls in a marine snow from shallower water depths. There
are the solitary hard corals whose single large polyps come in bright
orange and vivid yellow colours. There are few hard coral reef-building
species so some of the rare hard corals in the Southern ocean are the
delicate white and pink lace corals (called stylasterids). Soft corals
sway in the freezing cold currents. The flexible gorgonian octocorals
are found in the shallows (less than a few metres of water) and deeper
areas, down to over a few thousand metres, where they can grow to be
taller than the average human being. Octocorals come in fan,
bottle-brush, and whip shapes, and have been aged at close to 1,000
years old.






To date there are many hundreds of coral species identified in the
British Antarctic Territory; a number of which are new to science. With
more exploration it is almost certain more species shall be discovered.
The vibrant, complex community of coral gardens that is formed by this
diversity of corals forms a habitat that is home to a bewildering array
of other creatures such as brittlestars (as can be seen on one of the
stamps presented here), worms, seastars, and even fish. Science is just
beginning to understand the interactions between corals and their
inhabitants. Some relationships seem very specific; for example one
species of worm (a type of polychaetes) have only been found in one
species of coral. What does the coral gain from the presence of the
polychaete? How did this relationship develop and why? More research is
required to understand how corals in the Southern ocean breed, when, how
this is initiated, and, importantly, how the future warming of this cool
ocean will impact this important habitat.






Text provided Dr Michelle Taylor FHEA. Senior Postdoctoral Researcher.
Stipendiary Lecturer of St. Anne’s College Oxford.






Technical details:



Layout Bee Design



Printer Cartor Security Printing



Process Lithography



Perforation 13 ¼ x 13 ½ per 2cms



Stamp size 42 x 28mm



Sheet Layout 10 (66p, 76p, £1.01, £1.22)



Sheetlet (9 x 66p) size 175 x 122mm



Release date Expected mid-November 2017



Production Co-ordination Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd






Credits:



Photography JR15005/BAS (Stamps 1, 5, and 7)



Dan Blackwood, USGS (Stamps 2, 3, 4, 6, 8)



Cath Waller (Stamp 9)





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