In November 2010 the Shallow Marine Surveys Group (SMSG) undertook a dive survey of the shallow bays of the north coast of South Georgia to investigate the shallow marine biodiversity and provide a baseline for future climate change monitoring. As part of this work photographs were taken of most of the species encountered. A selection of these images has been beautifully transformed into watercolour by Leigh-Anne Wolfaardt for reproduction as stamps.
The first stamp features the predatory ten-legged sea spider (Decolopoda australis), which is unusual in having 10 legs rather than the more typical 8, and is shown here feeding on sponges, anemones and bryozoans.The pink cushion sea star, Odontaster validus, features on the second stamp. This brightly coloured and conspicuous member of the benthic community is found throughout the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic oceans.
The third stamp features the white tipped nudibranch, Flabellina falklandica, which as its name suggest, also occurs in the Falkland Islands and throughout southern South America.The branching sea cucumber (Heterocucumis steineni), which is featured on the fourth stamp, is common to rock wall habitats. Its highly branched feeding tree can be seen erupting from dense, colourful assemblages of colonial sea-squirts and sponges.
The iconic giant Antarctic isopod Glyptonotus antarcticus (fifth stamp) is a typical Antarctic species, which demonstrates the so-called “gigantism” characteristic of many cold-water species, growing up to 20 cm in length and 70 g in weight.Finally the sixth stamp features the South Georgia top shell Margarella tropidophoroides, which is found only in South Georgia waters. Such endemic species are often found on isolated islands such as South Georgia.