Ever visited a U.S. national marine sanctuary and look forward to another trip? If so, you can have inspiration through a new set of postage stamps.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary System, the U.S. Postal Service is releasing 16 new postage stamps showing scenes from sanctuaries around the world.
The stamps are “forever” stamps, which means they are always the equivalent of a current price of a first-class stamp. They will feature images that showcase the abundancy and diversity of both wildlife and ecosystems at the sanctuaries.
The stamps feature colorful images, for example, of sea lions in Channel Islands, a sand tiger shark in Monitor Marine Sanctuary, and queen angelfish in Flower Garden Banks. The Great Lakes are represented by an icy landscape.
The U.S. national marine sanctuaries have been protecting marine ecosystems since they were first designated in 1972. The National Marine Sanctuary System continues to preserve habitats that have been crucial in the survival of many endangered species, and some of them are home to many historic shipwrecks including two on the Great Lakes.
“There is abundant wildlife and diverse ecosystems found in our national marine sanctuaries across the U.S. Each site works hard through research, education and outreach to protect these special sites,” said Stephanie Gandulla, resource protection coordinator at Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary located in northern Lake Huron.
Added in 2000, the Alpena-based sanctuary contains hundreds of shipwrecks. Full Disclosure: The Visitor’s Center, when open, shows Great Lakes Now videos.
Stephanie Gandulla appeared in the Great Lakes Now segment “Wrecks Within Reach.”
Watch the segment here:
Sanctuary officials say many marine enthusiasts including history buffs, scuba divers and scientists are familiar with the sanctuary system. But overall the sanctuaries aren’t as well- known as the National Park System. Sanctuary supporters hope having the stamps in circulation will help more people learn about the National Marine Sanctuary System and want to visit and explore one themselves.
“It’s important to know that these are places that are accessible to the public. These are places for people to enjoy and responsibly recreate many opportunities for sustainable seafood and opportunities to connect with our country’s rich maritime history,” said Gandulla.
The Great Lakes added a secondary sanctuary — the Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast National Marine Sanctuary — in 2021.
Watch “Sweetwater Sanctuaries” here:
Sanctuaries Meet Stamps
Philately – or stamp collecting as a hobby or the study of stamps – can be traced back to the 1800s. Millions of people around the world collect stamps and each of them have their very own unique journey as to why they got into the hobby of philately, according to stamp-collecting experts.
People collect stamps for many different reasons, said Scott English, the executive director of the American Philatelic Society. They may have been inspired by a family member or close friend or have been inspired by a connection to history, art, culture, or geography that they are interested in and want to learn more about.
It’s a fun and generally inexpensive hobby that millions appreciate and take part in.
“History I think is the most important thing. Stamps typically honor a significant part of history or historical events and that’s a great way to educate folks and make a connection with other people,” he said. “I think that’s the most valuable thing that you can get out of it but of course there are a number of lessons you can learn.”
Stamps exist for National Park Service sites, and English said he welcomed the addition of the lesser-known marine sanctuaries.
“It’s a wonderful way to honor the work of NOAA and at the same time talk about the important work that’s happening with the national marine sanctuary protection program that’s going on out there,” he said. “There’s a lot of endangered species that are being watched out for by the program and this is a chance to highlight the value of that program and it’s an engaging way of showing them what the work is.”
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Featured image: The Great Lakes are represented by an icy landscape in the new collection of U.S. postage stamps. (Photo courtesy of NOAA)