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South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands Migratory Species

The globe is criss-crossed with borders and boundaries, designating
countries and states each with its own culture, identity and
regulations. However, these geopolitical borders were created by humans
for humans and animals follow their own geography, wonderfully oblivious
to the way we have divided up their world. Animals often require
different habitats and environmental conditions for mating, breeding and
feeding and so migrate between areas in order to find the resources they
need. Some migration routes are relatively short, perhaps just between
one side of a mountain range to another, but some species will travel
for thousands of miles. A wide range of animal groups make such mammoth
migrations; including birds, mammals, fish, invertebrates and reptiles.
Species which make these epic journeys have adapted to time their
movements in response to external and internal cues. External cues
include a range of environmental signals; including day length, local
climate and availability of food. While internal cues may include body
condition or the bodies internal, circadian, rhythms. Once they are
underway, animals may navigate with the aid of the sun, stars, magnetic
fields, winds, currents and even smell, however, the exact mechanisms
remain unknown in many animals. Whether by instinct or learned group
experience individuals can follow the same routes and return to
ancestral breeding and feeding grounds year on year.

Because of the large distances, the different habitats and the multiple
National borders through which they pass, conserving migratory species
presents a particular challenge. The first difficulty is tracking
species to find out where they actually go. The advent of modern
satellite tracking devices has made this a little easier but even then
attaching a tag to wild animals, sensitive to human disturbance, is not
always straightforward. Even once a migration route is known, countries
along that route need to agree shared conservation goals and enact them
under their local policies and procedures. If a conservation threat
persists at just one step along the way, the species is put in jeopardy
so it is imperative that nations work together.

To help facilitate the conservation of migratory species, a number of
global platforms exist including the Convention on Migratory Species
(CMS), which is an environmental treaty under the umbrella of the United
Nations Environment Programme. First signed in Bonn in 1983, this year
the Convention celebrates its 35th anniversary. Outside of formal
agreements like the CMS, countries work together through a variety of
conservation programmes and non-governmental organisations. Conservation
initiatives that benefit migratory species include promoting sustainable
habitat conservation, policing illegal trade, bycatch prevention and
reducing disturbance from marine noise.

Blue Whale Balaenoptera musculus

The largest known creature to ever live on Earth, blue whales are gentle
giants. Also a type of baleen whale they mainly feed on krill and other
plankton. Verified measurements of blue whales rarely exceed 28 m (92
ft), although larger animals were recorded during the whaling era. A
very large animal could weigh close to 200 tonnes. Blue whales are
usually loners and rarely form groups. Tagging during the Discovery
investigations (1901-1904) indicated that most blue whales passed
through South Georgia waters on their way to and from breeding grounds,
off the coast of Brazil, and feeding grounds on the further south. In
recent years, blue whale sightings around South Georgia have increased
in number with many encounters occurring around Shag Rocks. During the
whaling era, it is estimated this species was hunted to less than 5% of
the original population and is now classed as Endangered by the IUCN.

Humpback Whale Megaptera novaeangliae

Humpback whales are part of a family of baleen whales, which are
characterised by giant ‘baleen plates’ that hang from their jaws. These
plates are used to filter small fish and crustaceans, such as krill,
from huge gulps of seawater. Ranging from 12-19 m in length and weighing
in at around 36,000 kg they are a common sight around South Georgia
during the summer months but can be seen throughout the year. Feeding on
the rich coastal waters they can often be seen in large dispersed groups
along the north coast, breaching, rolling and slapping the water with
their pectoral flippers. However, the cold waters of the Southern Ocean
are not suitable for the whales to calve and so in the winter months
many journey north to the Patagonian Shelf.

South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands Migratory Species is one of a
complimentary suite of stamps being issued in 2018 by British Overseas
Territories including Ascension Island, British Antarctic Territory,
Falkland Islands and Tristan da Cunha.

Technical Details

Designer Andrew Robinson

Printer Cartor

Process Stochastic lithography

Perforation 13 ¼ x 13 ½ per 2cms

Stamp size 42 x 28mm

Sheet layout 20 (2 x 10 Se-tenant pairs)

Release date 18 October, 2018

Production Co-ordination Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd

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