Australia 1998 Year of the Ocean

From Stamps of the World
Australia 1998 Year of the Ocean seadragon.jpg
  • Issue Date: 1 October 1998
  • Designed by: Wayne Rankin
  • Printed by: SNP Cambec
  • Print Process: lithography
  • Withdrawal date: 31 March 1999


The ocean comprises nearly three-quarters of the Earth’s surface, provides an important source of food, largely controls global weather and climate and is the ultimate source of all water resources.

Yet there has been more exploration of outer space than there has of the ocean depths. The vast majority of the ocean, ninety-eight per cent, in fact, remains unexplored and unknown, its natural resources and processes only now being understood. Planet Ocean, the 1998 Stamp Collecting Month issue, explores the ocean depths and celebrates the United Nations International Year of the Ocean.

The waters surrounding Australia are part of three large, interconnected oceans of the Southern Hemisphere: the Pacific, the Indian and the Southern Oceans. They contain a great range of geographic features and around 12,000 islands. Fields of seamounts south of Tasmania contain peaks rising to three times the height of our highest terrestrial mountains.


Designer Wayne Rankin has used the latest in 3-D graphic techniques on the Planet Ocean stamps to achieve an effect not possible with photography. The Planet Ocean stamps are the first Australian stamps to be designed using computer modelling.

Sheet Stamps

45c Weedy Seadragon Stamp

  • Perforations: 14.0 x 14.5
  • Stamp Size: 26 mm x 37.5 mm
  • Format: sheets of 50 (two panes of 25, se-tenant with Bottlenose Dolphin stamp)

The Common or Weedy Seadragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus) is found only in southern Australian waters. It has an astonishing colour pattern, with an orange-red background, iridescent blue stripes and numerous white spots and yellow markings. The female deposits 100 to 250 eggs on the underside of her mate’s tail. The male then incubates the eggs in cup-like supports, protecting them with varying degrees of cover.

45c Weedy Seadragon

45c Bottlenose Dolphin Stamp

  • Perforations: 14.0 x 14.5
  • Stamp Size: 26 mm x 37.5 mm
  • Format: sheets of 50 (two panes of 25, se-tenant with Weedy Seadragon stamp)

Dolphins, porpoises and whales are all warm-blooded, breathe air and suckle their young. The Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) lives for more than 35 years, grows to about four metres long and has a streamlined body with paired pectoral fins, and a single dorsal fin. It can dive relatively deep and can remain underwater for up to fifteen minutes.

45c Bottlenose Dolphin

Se-tenant Pair

Se-tenant pair of 45c stamps

45c Fiery Squid Stamp

  • Perforations: 14.0 x 14.5
  • Stamp Size: 25 mm x 30 mm
  • Format: sheets of 50

The Fiery Squid (Pyroteuthis margaritifera) is a small animal, less than 10 centimetres in total length, that lives in the deep waters of the open ocean. By day it retreats to between 300 and 500 metres below the sea surface to escape into the darkness and avoid predators. At night, when it is safer, it migrates towards the upper 200 metres. As an added protection, its underside glows with small light organs which match the light from the sky above, so that it is invisible to predators from below.

45c Fiery Squid

45c Manta Ray Stamp

  • Perforations: 14 x 14.5
  • Stamp Size: 30 mm x 25 mm
  • Format: sheets of 50

The largest of the rays and one of the largest living fishes, Manta Rays (Manta birostris) can measure six to seven metres wide – more usually they grow to about four metres across. Like sharks, rays have a skeleton composed of cartilage rather than bone. They have broad, flat, winglike pectoral fins along the sides of the head, and eyes and spiracles (breathing holes) on top of the head and mouth and gill slits underneath. Manta Rays are graceful swimmers and are capable of spectacular leaps above the surface.

45c Manta Ray

45c White Pointer Shark Stamp

  • Perforations: 14 x 14.5
  • Stamp Size: 30 mm x 50 mm
  • Format: sheets of 50

The White Pointer, or Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias), is rare and there are signs that the species is declining in numbers. In Australia it is found from southern Queensland around the south of the continent to southern Western Australia. A massive creature, it reaches lengths of more than six metres and has a fearsome reputation as a predator. Two of its main food sources in southern Australian waters are fur seals and sea lions. It also feeds on dolphins and whales.

45c White Pointer Shark

45c Southern Right Whale Stamp

  • Perforations: 14.5 x 14
  • Stamp Size: 50 mm x 30 mm
  • Format: sheets of 50

The Southern Right Whale (Eubalaena australis) has been protected since 1935 and was listed as endangered in 1992. It was regarded by early whalers as the ‘right’ whale to hunt because it comes close to shore, is a slow swimmer, and gives a high blubber and oil yield. The whales migrate from their Antarctic feeding grounds to the southern coasts of Australia in winter, where they can be seen in shallow waters just beyond the surf line. The Southern Right has baleen plates rather than teeth. A gentle giant growing to an average of fifteen metres in length, its sounds may be the loudest produced by an animal, capable of carrying up to hundreds of kilometres.


Self-adhesive Stamps

  • Perforations: serpentine die cut 11.5
  • Stamp Size: 26 mm x 37.5 mm
  • Format: booklets of 10, coils of 100

Single Stamps

45c Weedy Seadragon
45c Bottlenose Dolphin


$4.50 booklet cover
Booklet pane of 10 x 45c

Coil Pair

Coil pair of 45c stamps

Miniature Sheet

Miniature sheet of 6 x 45c

First Day Covers

The first day of issue postmark was Deepwater NSW 2371.

First day cover - sheet stamps
First day cover - self-adhesive stamps
First day cover - miniature sheet

Maximum Cards

45c Weedy Seadragon maximum card
45c Bottlenose Dolphin maximum card
45c Fiery Squid maximum card
45c Manta Ray maximum card
45c White Pointer Shark maximum card
45c Southern Right Whale maximum card

Presentation Pack

Presentation pack front cover
Presentation pack back cover
Presentation pack of 6 x 45c and miniature sheet