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SGS131 Island Series Pt4 Traversay Islands FDC

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South Sandwich Islands – Traversay Islands

The South Sandwich Islands are a string of eleven volcanic islands and rocks located approximately 500 km to the south east of South Georgia. The island chain stretches for over 400 km in a north to south direction. From north to south they are Zavodovski, Leskov, Visokoi, Candlemas, Vindication, Saunders, Montagu, Bristol, Bellingshausen, Cook and Thule. The South Sandwich Islands range in size from the largest, Montague, at 110 km2 to the smallest, Leskov, at 0.3 km2. To the east of the islands lies the South Sandwich Trench, which plumets to a depth of more than 8000 m and is the deepest point in the Southern Ocean and South Atlantic.

The South Sandwich Islands were first discovered by Captain James Cook in 1775. Thick fog and snow storms made exploration difficult but out of the gloom Cook noted eight rocky masses he thought could be islands or headlands on a distant continent. The conditions made navigation extremally dangerous and so Cook did not explore in detail or land on the islands. The region was next visited in 1819 by the Russian explorer Fabian von Bellingshausen who was able to explore more thoroughly and confirm the rocky masses seen by Cook were indeed islands and there were three further to the north making 11 in total.

In winter, the islands are enveloped by sea ice and remain difficult to access in summer due to the mountainous seas which surround them. As such they are rarely visited by humans and remain in pristine isolation. In 2022, the whole island chain was declared a Specially Protected Area by the Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands.

The island chain can be divided up into four island groups, each of which will be celebrated in this series of stamps. Each island will be represented with a pair of stamps; one features an example of the wildlife that occurs there and the other a striking landscape feature of the island.

This fourth and final set in the series features the islands of Zavodovski and Visokoi, which along with Leskov, make up the Traversay Islands.

£1.25 – Zavodovski Island

The northern most of the South Sandwich Island, Zavodovski was discovered by Bellinghausen in December 1819 and named for the second in command of the expedition ship Vostok. The islands coastlines are made up of cliffs and rock shelves and the high point of the island is Mt Curry at 550 m.a.s.l. The peak is also known as Mt Asphyxia because of the plumes of toxic gas emitted from the volcanic crater.

It is thought up to 1 million chinstrap penguins breed on Zavodovski making it one of the largest bird colonies on earth. Chinstrap penguins have a circum-polar distribution and a diet primarily made up of small fish, krill and squid. The abundant global population means chinstrap penguins are classed by the IUCN as a species of least concern. Nevertheless, they are threatened by climate change impacts on their food supply and so at the South Sandwich Islands, their foraging grounds are protected.

£1.40 – Visokoi Island

First discovered and charted by Bellingshausen on 4 January 1820 it was first named Ostrov Torsona in the original of one of the artist Mikhaylov's pictures in the Atlas accompanying Bellingshausen's book, after Lieutenant Konstantin Petrovich Torson. However, it was later re-named Ostrov Vysokiy or Ostrov Vysokoy, meaning high island, following Torson's identification as a "Decembrist" through implication in the Russian officers' revolt of December 1825. The island consists of one major volcano, Mt Hodson, with a height of 1,005 m.a.s.l. and which is heavily glaciated apart from several low areas on the coast like the northern Finger Point and eastern Irving Point.

Macaroni penguins are a type of crested penguin with a distinctive yellow crest that resembles a hairdo from which its name is derived. They are found throughout the South Sandwich Islands and often co-located with chinstrap penguins. Their diet consists of a variety of crustaceans, mainly krill, as well as small fish and cephalopods. The species is classed by the IUCN as Threatened but like all penguins at the South Sandwich Islands, their breeding sites are protected and they benefit from a 50km no take zone around the islands.

Technical Details

Design Bee Design

Photography Andy Black

Printer Cartor

Process Stochastic lithography

Perforation 13 ¼ x 13 ½ per 2cms

Stamp size 42 x 28mm

Sheet layout 10

Release date 10 February, 2024

Production Co-ordination Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd


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