Niue Post issued a set of four stamps featuring whales which are often visible between the months of June and October.
Many humpback whales shelter in the deep waters of the bays around Avatele and Tamakautoga. Between the months of June and October, the whales are often visible for hours on end, sometimes a mere 50 metres from the water’s edge.
The underside flukes of a mature female known as ‘Nala’ are shown on the 80c stamp. Each individual whale can be identified by the unique markings on their tails, which are used by researchers to develop life history information.
The $1.20 stamp features two whales spyhopping (raising their heads out of the water). Males and females mimic each other’s behaviour when involved in courtship. After mating, females will travel to the tropical breeding grounds to give birth to their calves 11 months later.
The $1.40 stamp captures a calf (less than one month old) breaching after nursing in the waters off Niue with its mother. Calves are approximately 3.5 metres at birth and weigh up to one tonne. Most baby whales are able to swim within 30 minutes of birth.
A mother and calf are shown playing after a feeding session on the $2.00 stamp. Calves spend one year with their mothers and drink up to 600 litres of milk a day. Humpback whales travel to Antarctica to feed in the summer, then journey back to the warm Niuean waters in winter.
Title: Niue Whale Watching
Date of Issue: 17 November 2010
Denominations: 80c, $1.20, $1.40, $2.00