Bulletin 849 – 22nd August 2014 – Pigeon Island Marine National Park

Department of Posts,
Postal Headquarters,
D. R. Wijewardena Mawatha,
Colombo 01000

The Philatelic Bureau, of the Department of Posts will issue six postage stamps in the denominations of Rs.7.00, Rs. 10.00, Rs. 15.00, Rs 25.00, Rs. 35.00 and Rs.50.00 and a miniature sheet depicting Pigeon Island Marine National Park on 22nd August 2014 as its fifth issue in the series of stamps on National Parks of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka enjoys eight times larger marine environment than its land area. This sea area is blessed with various types of marine resources. Coral reefs are undoubtedly one of them. They sometimes referred as rainforest or gardens of the ocean mainly due to its higher bio diversity and the ecosystem productivity. However, when considering the magnitude of coastal line of Sri Lanka the extent of reefs are limited to very few stretches, but it always retains its ecological and economic importance to the highest level possible.

Pigeon Island is one of the highly diverse, ecologically and socioeconomically important reef habitats located in Sri Lanka. In order to manage and conserve this fragile ecosystem, the Island and the surrounding reef area was given the status of Marine National Park by the Department of Wildlife Conservation. The park is located 272km away from Colombo, 15km North of Trincomalee and Ikm off the coast of Nilaveli in Eastern Province. The National Park contains one of the best remaining coral reefs of Sri Lanka.

The island was used as a shooting range during the colonial era. The name “Pigeon Island” was derived because of a wild strain of Blue Rock Pigeons (Columba Livia), who is restricted to this island listed under nationally threatened bird species ranked under critically endangered species. In order to protect and conserve this organism, the island was declared as a sanctuary in 1974. During this declaration, the adjacent sea area was not included into the sanctuary. Nevertheless, later in 2003, it was re-designated as a National Park by Department of Wildlife Conservation under the Flora and Fauna Ordinance Act, No 22 including the coral rich sea areas of the Island. It is the 17th National Park in Sri Lanka. Moreover, it was cited in the IUCN directory of South Asian Protected areas and declared as a SAM (Special Area Management) area by Coast Conservation and Coastal Resource Management Department of Sri Lanka.

The park boundary encompass with 471.4 hectares (out of which, 9 ha. within the land) including the surrounding sea of one mile radius around the island. At a glance, this island appears as one landform but virtually it consisted two islands as small and large landmasses with rocky outcrops. They are named as Large Pigeon Island, Small Pigeon Island and Salabalas Rocks (Salapilas Rocks). The Large Pigeon Island is fringed by a coral reef, and is about 200 m long and 100 m wide, with rocky outcrops, a rubble beach and a narrow sandy beach. Its highest point is 44.8 m above mean sea level. The Small Pigeon Island is surrounded by rocky islets. Salabalas rocks are rocky protrusions located in the park boundary.

The reef environment is dominated mainly by branching Acropora spp. with some foliose Montipora, Echinopora spp. In addition to the coral families such as Faviidae, Pocilloporidae, Mussidae and Poritidae present in higher abundance. Larger areas of soft corals such as Sinularia, Lobophyton, and Sarcophyton can also be observed in deeper areas of north and south ends of the Island. The framework of corals is riddled with plenty of species. The complex three-dimension nature of reef provides shelter and foraging sites for millions of other vertebrates and invertebrates. Many of the 100 species of corals and 300 coral reef fishes were recorded around the Trincomalee area are found within the national park boundary. Frequent sightings of Juvenile and Adult Black Tip Reef Sharks (Charcharinus Melanopterus) are an intriguing view around the shallow coral areas. Pigeon Island is home to a number of endangered and protected fish species such as Bicolor Cleaner Wrasse (Labroides Bicolor) (protected reef fish), Raggedfin Parrotfish (Chlorurus Rhakoura) (restricted to Sri Lanka), Humphead Wrasse (Cheilinus Undulates) (globally endangered). In addition to that the Mellon Butterflyfish (Chaetodon Trifasciatus), Black Wedged Buterflyfish (Chaetodon Falcula), Moorish Idol (Zanclus Cornutus), Blue Ringed Angelfish (Pomacanthus Annularis), Emperor Angelfish (Pomacanthus Imperator) add extremely rich colours to the reef environment of the Island. Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys Imbricata), Green Turtle (Chelonia Mydas), Loggerhead (Caretta Caretta), Leatherback (Dermochelys Coriacea) and Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys Oivacea) are the visiting sea turtles of the coral reef and the surrounding sandy beach.

However, the Island and the surrounding marine ecosystem at present under various influences of environmental and anthropogenic orient. Impacts caused by Crown- of-Thorns (COT) Starfish (Acanthaster Planci), Fast Growing Sea Algae (Halemeda and Caulerpa), thermal stress and fungal attacks are accelerating at an alarming rate. Due to its fascinating beauty, Pigeon Island is one of a fun spot in Sri Lanka for visitors as a bathing beach and a snorkelling and scuba diving site. Tourism related activities such as snorkelling, diving, bathing, boat movements and fisheries related activities such as usage of non-sustainable fishing methods such as dynamiting and ornamental fish collection are common in the area. All these trigger chronic stress conditions that can ultimately contribute to the degradation of the ecosystem within the Pigeon Island National Park. Hence, wise and prudent use and management of resources such as banning of reef walking, controlling of boat movements, restriction of bathing activities, zonation of reef system, organizing of regular cleanups of invasive species, collection proper disposal of solid waste originated at the island, periodic monitoring and surveys would be suggested as immediate reef protection and management interventions.

Rs. 7.00-Rock Pigeon (Columba livia)

The Rock Pigeons (Columba livia) or Rock Dove is a member of the bird family Columbidae. The species includes the domestic pigeons, but however the Pigeon inhibiting Pigeon Island Trincomalee are of a wild race of ‘Columba livia’ which is shy, rare and threatened, being confined to a few areas and use the island as an important breeding and roosting site. This native form, known as the Blue Rock Pigeon inhabiting in Sri Lanka is considered critically endangered.

There are 3 types of pigeons: Rock Pigeons (natural), Domestic Pigeons (artificial) and Feral Pigeons (outlaws). These dovecote pigeons were semi-domesticated birds that originally derived from wild rock pigeons (Columba livia). Feral are often ignored by ornithologists Perhaps because are not native wild birds and it’s a result of man’s interference with nature. There are numerous breeds of fancy pigeons of all sizes, colours and types. Many domestic birds have escaped or been released over the years, and have given rise to the feral pigeon. These show a variety of plumages, although some have the blue barred pattern as does the pure rock pigeon. Feral pigeons live in an artificial environment, like the town people who feed them, but they are not pariahs. They have lived in towns for so long now that it is hard to say they are not native. Their original ancestor, the rock pigeon, is a native wild bird this makes the feral pigeon a fully-fledged species as well, which does not deserve to be ignored or hated. However, it is believed that the scarcity of the pure wild species is partly due to interbreeding with feral birds.

The adult pigeon is 29 to 37 cm long with a 62 to 72 cm wingspan weight from 238-380 g. has a dark bluish-gray head, neck, and chest with glossy yellowish, greenish, and reddish-purple iridescence along its neck and wing feathers. The iris is orange, red or golden with a paler inner ring, and the bare skin round the eye is bluish-grey. The bill is grey-black with a conspicuous off-white and the feet are purplish-red. The adult female is almost identical to the male, but the iridescence on the neck is less intense and more restricted to the rear and sides, while that on the breast is often very obscure.

A distinctive operculum is located on top of the beak. The white lower back of the pure rock pigeon is its best identification character, the two black bars on its pale grey wings are also distinctive. The tail has a black band on the end and the outer web of the tail feathers are margined with white. It is strong and quick on the wing, dashing out from sea caves, flying low over the water, its lighter grey rump showing well from above.

Wild rock pigeons are pale grey with two black bars on each wing. There are few visible differences between males and females. Habitats include various open and semi-open environments. Cliffs and rock ledges are used for roosting and breeding in the wild.

Originally found wild in Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia, feral pigeons have become in cities around the world. Although it is a relatively strong flier, it also glides frequently, holding its wings in a very pronounced V shape as it does. Pigeons feed on the ground in flocks or individually They roost together in buildings or on walls or statues. When disturbed, a pigeon in a group will take off with a noisy clapping sound. Pigeons, especially homing or carrier breeds are well known for their ability to find their way home from long distances. Despite these demonstrated abilities, wild rock doves are sedentary and rarely leave their local areas.

Columba livia that was introduced to Sri Lanka by the British as a pet has now become a serious pest and a nuisance in many parts of the country. This bird lives as flocks that may have more than a hundred individuals and a large flock causes considerable damage during a short time of intense feeding. It is difficult to chase away as a flock will usually fly away and come back again after a short time. This bird is quite tame and accustomed to human beings. It roosts and nests in buildings, soiling them with foul smelling excrement and the loud cooing noises which have made it to a nuisance. It is a serious threat to paddy, feeding voraciously on both the sown paddy and the ripe crop.

The rock pigeon has a restricted natural resident range in western and southern Europe, North Africa, and into South Asia. Its habitat is natural cliffs, usually on coasts, Its domesticated form, the feral pigeon, has been widely introduced elsewhere, and is common, especially in cities, over much of the world. A rock pigeon’s lifespan is anywhere from 3-5 years in the wild to 15 years in captivity, though longer-lived specimens have been reported. The rock pigeon breeds at any time of the year, but peak times are spring and summer. Nesting sites are along coastal cliff faces, as well as the artificial cliff faces or a ledge, under cover, often on the window ledges of buildings created by apartment buildings.

The nest is a flimsy platform of straw and sticks. Two white eggs are laid incubation is shared by both parents lasting from seventeen to nineteen days. For the first few days, the baby squab (nestling) is tended and fed (through regurgitation) exclusively on “crop milk” (pigeon milk). The pigeon milk is produced in the crops of both parents in all species of pigeons and doves. The fledging period is about 30 days.

With only its flying abilities protecting it from predation, rock pigeons are a favorite almost around the world for a wide range of raptorial birds, hawks, owls, gulls, crows, eagles, kites and cats. Pigeons may harbor a diverse parasite fauna. Pigeons have been falsely associated with the spread of human diseases. Pigeon droppings poses a minor risk of contracting Histoplasmosis, Cryptococcosis, and psittacosis, and exposure to both droppings and feathers can produce bird fancier’s lung. Pigeons are not a major concern in the spread of West Nile virus, though they can contract it, they do not appear to be able to transmit it. They are, however, at potential risk for carrying and spreading avian influenza. One study has shown that adult pigeons are not clinically susceptible to the most dangerous strain of avian influenza, the H5N1, and that they did not transmit the virus to chickens. Pigeons were found to be “resistant or minimally susceptible” to other strains of avian influenza, such as the H7N7.

Rock Pigeons have been domesticated for several thousand years, giving rise to the domestic pigeon (Columba livia domestica). As well as food and pets, domesticated pigeons are used as homing pigeons. They were in the past also used as carrier pigeons (war pigeons) have played significant roles during wartime, with many pigeons having received bravery awards and medals for their services in saving hundreds of human lives.

Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline of pigeon is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations), The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern

Rs.10.00-Sperm whale

The Sperm Whale or Cachalot (Physeter Macrocephalus) is the largest of the toothed whales and the largest toothed predator. The Sperm Whale is among the most cosmopolitan species. It prefers ice-free waters over 1,000 meters deep. It is relatively abundant from the poles to the equator and is found in all the oceans. However it is believed that the adult males populate higher latitudes. Sperm whales are usually found in deep off-shore waters, but may be seen closer to shore in areas where the continental shelf is small and drops quickly to depths of 310-920 meters usually denser populations close to continental shelves and canyons.

Matured sperm whale males average at 16 meters in length but some may reach around 20metres weigh up to 60 tons. Newborns calves average 4 meters and weigh up to 1.1 tons. Males reach their full size at about age 50. Sperm whales life span is more than 70 years.

The Sperm Whale’s body shape is unique and results due to whale’s distinctive, very large, block-shaped head, which can be one-quarter to one-third of the animal’s length. The skull of the Sperm Whale is asymmetrical as with other toothed whales in order to aid echolocation. Sound waves that strike the whale from different directions will not be channeled in the same way. The blowhole is S-shaped and located very close to the front of the head and skewed to the whale’s left. This gives rise to a distinctive bushy, forward-angled spray. The head of the whale contains a semi-liquid waxy substance called spermaceti, almost looks likes sperms, originally mistakenly identified as the whales’ semen from which the whale derives its name. Spermaceti was used in lubricants, oil lamps, and candles.

Sperm Whales hunt through echolocation. They feed on several species, notably the giant but also the larger colossal squid, octopuses, and diverse fish like demersal rays, but the main part of their diet consists of medium-sized squid. Sperm whales are believed to prey on the mega mouth shark. The sperm whale is carnivorous and feeds primarily on squid plunging up to 2,250 meters in search of its prey believed to be able remain submerged for 90 minutes. More typical sperm whale dives are around 400 meters and 35 minutes in duration. The sperm whale has adaptations to handle high pressure changes when diving. The flexible ribcage allows lung collapse that reduce nitrogen intake, and decreased metabolism to decrease to conserve oxygen. They store oxygen in Myoglobin, a muscle tissue which stores oxygen and have a high red blood cell density which contains oxygen-carrying haemoglobin. The oxygenated blood can be directed towards only the brain and other essential organs when oxygen levels deplete.

It has been stated that sperm whales help to fertilize the surface of the ocean by consuming nutrients at depth and transporting those nutrients to the oceans’ surface when they defecate. This fertilizes phytoplankton on the surface of the ocean and contributes to ocean productivity and the drawdown of atmospheric carbon.

The sperm whale use sounds for echolocation and communication. Its clicking vocalization may be as loud as 230 decibels underwater, making it the loudest sound produced by any animal. A creak is a rapid series of high-frequency clicks that sounds somewhat like a creaky door hinge. It is typically used when homing in on prey.

Sperm whales are not the easiest of whales to watch, due to their long dive times and ability to travel long distances underwater. However, due to the distinctive look and large size of the whale, watching is increasingly popular. Sperm whale watchers often use hydrophones to listen to the clicks of the whales and locate them before they surface.

Rs. 15.00 Blacktip Reef Shark (Carcharhinus Melanopterus)

Blacktip Reef shark is the most abundant sharks inhabiting the tropical coral reefs of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. They prefer shallow, inshore waters with extremely small home ranges and exhibit strong site fidelity staying at the same local area for up to several years at a time. Although it has been reported from a depth of 75 m (246 ft), the Blacktip reef shark is usually found in water only a few meters deep over reef ledges and sandy flats have also been known to enter brackish and freshwater environments often be seen swimming with its dorsal fin exposed. This species typically attains a length of 1.6 m though rarely individuals may reach 1.8 mor possibly 2.0 m. The maximum weight on record is 13.6 kg (30 lb). Along with the grey reef shark (Camblyrhinchos) and the Whitetip reef shark (Triaenodon Obesus), the Blacktip reef shark is one of the three most common sharks inhabit coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific with a home range of around 0.55 km among the smallest of any shark species. Timid and skittish, the Blacktip reef shark is difficult to approach and seldom poses a danger to humans unless aroused by food.

This shark is a robustly built species with a streamlined “typical shark” form with a pale grayish-brown above and white below, with an obvious white band on the sides extending forward from above the anal fin. All the fins have black tips highlighted by borders, which are especially striking on the first dorsal fin and lower caudal fin lobe. The Blacktip reef shark has a short, wide, rounded snout and moderately large, oval eyes. The pectoral fins are large and narrowly falcate (sickle-shaped), tapering to points. The sizable first dorsal fin is high and the second dorsal fin is relatively large with a short rear margin, and is placed opposite the anal fin. There is no ridge between the dorsal fins.

Blacktip reef shark is viviparous with females giving birth to two to five young on a biennial, annual, or possibly biannual cycle. Reports of the gestation period range from 7-9, to 10-11, to possibly 16 months. Newborn baby sharks are found further inshore and in shallower water just behind the shore line, frequently roaming in large groups over areas flooded by high tide.

Blacktip is often the most abundant, active and apex predator within its ecosystem. Not counting small symphysial (central) teeth, the tooth rows number 11- 13 (usually 12) on either side of the upper jaw and 10-12 (usually 11) on either side of the lower jaw. The upper teeth are upright to angled and narrowly triangular in shape, bearing serrations that are coarser on the bases, the lower teeth are similar, but more finely serrated. The teeth of adult males are more abruptly curved than those of females.

The Blacktip reef shark plays a major role in structuring inshore ecological communities. Its diet is composed primarily of small teleost fishes, including mullet, groupers, jacks, wrasses and surgeonfish. Groups of Blacktip reef sharks in the Indian Ocean have been observed herding schools of mullet against the shore for easier feeding Squid, octopus, cuttlefish, shrimp, and mantis shrimp are also taken, as well as carrion and smaller sharks and rays, sea snakes and seabirds though this is rare. Miscellaneous items that have been found inside the stomachs of this species include algae, turtle grass, coral, hydrozoa, Bryozoa, and even stones. However Blacktip reef sharks’ particularly small individuals, fall prey to larger fishes, including groupers, grey reef sharks, tiger sharks (Galeocerdo Cuvier), and members of their own species.

Blacktip is a regular catch of coastal fisheries used for its meat, fins, and liver oil, but is not considered to be a commercially significant species. Although the species as a whole remains widespread and relatively common, overfishing of this slow-reproducing shark has led to its decline at a number of locales and this species has a low reproductive rate, limiting its capacity for recovering from depletion. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed the Blacktip reef shark as a near threatened species. Because of their stereotypically “shark-like” appearance and modest size, Blacktip is a prime attraction of ecotourism divers.

Rs.25.00 – Blackwedged Butterfly Fish (Chaetodon falcula)

The Black-wedged Butterflyfish, Chaetodon falcula, is a tropical species of Butterflyfish (Family-Chaetodontidae). It is found in the Indian Ocean, from eastern Africa south to 27°S and east to Indonesia. It grows approximately to 10 cm. The Black- wedged Butterflyfish is found on the reef edge and upper slope. It prefers current-prone habitats ranging from 1-20 m depth. Juveniles are secretive in corals. Generally they can be seen in pairs or in small aggregations that may contain as many as 20 individuals and form pairs during breeding. This species is oviparous.

The fish is bilaterally compressed and the snout is prolonged and the colour pattern of the body is very different. The body is white with a series of narrow vertical dark grey lines and bright yellow and orange over the back, dorsal fin, anal fin and caudal fin. There are two well-defined black saddles on the back, and as usual the characteristic black eye- band of Chaetodon is present. The Falcula Butterflyfish is also known as the Sickle Butterflyfish.

There is not data on the diet of this species, but it is assumed to feed on invertebrates such as hard and soft corals and mushroom anemones. This is a widespread species and common. The species has given “least concern” status in IUCN Red List. However coral depletion may cause some declines. This species is sometimes collected for the aquaris trade and frequently exported from Sri Lanka. But there is no data on temporal population trends and the abundance of this species.

Rs. 35.00-Scaly Rock Crab (Grapsus albolineatus)

The tropical rocky shore crab sometimes called scaly light foot crab. This colourful and swift crab is common in most of the rocky shores. Small groups may clamber nosily among rocks on seawalls or natural rocks. Sometimes, it can be seen on the reef flats near to the rocky shore. It is active at night as well as during daylight. Very shy and disappears instantly into crevices at the slightest sign of the present of an outsider. Or it may flatten against the encrusted rocks when waves swash the rocks. The Rocky shore crab is maintaining a distinct social hierarchy. Strong males dominate within their territories.

Body is circular flat (carapace depressed) with the width of 5-6 cm, rough, dark with a pattern of light spots in bands at the lower portion of the body Hepatic region is without strong vertical tubercle. Pincers very short flattened. Branchio-cardiac groove is distinct. Very long walking legs tipped with pointy claws. The sternite of the chelipeds is lightly coloured. With these legs, the crab clings tightly so it doesn’t get washed away in the waves, and can scramble quickly among slippery rocks. Colours seen range from reddish to bluish and greenish. ‘Alba‘ means white and ‘lineata‘ means lines. The body indeed has fine white lines. Males have larger pincers than the females. Male abdomen consists with sixth segment equal to or shorter than fifth. Male’s first pleopod curved, not stout.

The tropical rocky shore crab feeds primarily on filamentous algae but eats animal matter whenever it is available. It is a scavenger and also eats seaweeds. It has relatively small pincers that work like scissors to snip and scrape off edible tithits. During the summer or the low tide periods the crab’s diet switches to encrusting algae due to a die- off of filamentous algae. Their molting frequency is depending on the dietary requirements. The opportunistic consumption of animal material in the form of carrion, or of animals associated with dietary algae may play a key role in the reproductive success of this crab. These crabs are considered least threatened and no information available for the better understanding its present status.

As a result of the switch the nutrients in the diet of the crab vary seasonally and may influence the fitness of the crab. Maintenance, growth, reproductive performance and nutrient storage of crabs were examined under four dietary regimes of increasing nutritional value ranging from low organic to high protein content. The nutritional quality of these diets significantly affected crab survival and moulting Crabs fed on the nutritionally superior diet of algae and meat exhibited enhanced growth, higher levels of energy in the reproductive organs and stored more energy in the hepatopancreas than did individuals on the shore and crabs fed only on algal diets in the laboratory Filamentous algae were a better food source than other algae, resulting in fewer deaths and superior levels of maintenance and growth. Growth and maintenance can occur on a pure algal diet, but reproductive performance and nutrient storage require some degree of added nutrients in the form of animal matter in the diet. Crabs fed coralline or foliose algae had higher mortality and fewer successful moults than crabs fed the other two diets. The fitness of G. albolineatus appears to be limited by the amount of extra nutrients obtained from animal matter. The opportunistic consumption of animal material in the form of carrion, or of animals associated with dietary algae, could be a key factor in the reproductive success of this crab.

Rs.50.00-Knotted Fan Coral (Melithaca Ochracea) Emperor Angelfish (Pomacanthus Imperator)

Knotted fan coral is a species of colonial soft coral in the family Melithacidae, commonly known as knotted fan coral It grows in tree-like fans on coral reefs in most tropical shallow continental shelves on slopes and deeper parts of the reef, in areas 20 -28°C temperature. Colonies are arborescent forming fans or bushes and usually grow to about 20 cm long but sometimes it may reach larger sizes. They grow in one plane and have a branching. Branches arise from the nodes of which the larger ones are often swollen. The main skeletal stalk and branches are jointed, with swellings at the larger joints. The internodes are composed of hard, calcareous material while the joints are flexible and made of a horny material, Colonies vary in colour but tend to be shades of yellow, orange, red and white, sometimes with contrasting colours for the calyces and polyps. It is an azooxanthellate coral and does not contain symbiotic unicellular algae in its tissues. At greater depths, down to 15 meters, the colonies are smaller and have different color combinations, yellow branches and red calyces.

The skeleton is covered by a flexible membrane, which contains minute calcareous spicules or sclerites. It include capstans, double discs, disc-spindles and unilaterally spinose spindles, plain spindles, clubs and anthocodial sclerites. Dome shaped perforated structures from which the polyps protrude.

This is a common coral used in the reef aquarium trade. It requires a moderate flow of water to allow the polyps to feed on non-evasive zooplankton and probably also phytoplankton. These corals are one of several genera of sea fan that can be hosts to a species of pygmy seahorse, the Denise’s pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus denise). This coral is also popularly used in the jewelry industry under the name Red Spongy Coral It is known as a spongy coral because of the porous nature of its structure Bright orange red specimens are the most desirable. While it is easy to work with, it is also easy to damage because of its delicate structure. Knotted Fan Coral is sometimes farmed due to the fact that it grows more quickly than other corals used in the jewelry industry. Its harvesting is believed to be sustainable. These fan corals are considered least threatened and no information available for the better understanding its present status.

The emperor angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator) is one of the most stunning fish you could encounter underwater. It is a species of marine Angelfishes (Family- Pomacanthidae) live associated with coral reefs, lagoon patch reefs, reef faces, channels and fore reef slopes and granite boulders in shallow waters ranging from 1-100m depth They grow to 40 cm (15.75 in) in length. Marine angelfish can be identified by the presence of strong preopercle spines (part of the gill covers) either side of their operculum with their colours and deep, laterally compressed bodies. They are native to the Indian and Pacific Oceans, from the Red Sea to Hawan and the Austral Islands. Rare sightings have been recorded in the Hawaiian Islands, Puerto Rico, and Florida most likely due to aquarium release.

The changing angelfish vary in coloration and pattern as it transforms from juvenile to the adult. Juveniles are dark blue with electric blue and white rings. It takes about 24 to 30 months for an emperor angelfish to acquire its adult coloring. Adult has a bold, blue body covered with bright yellow horizontal stripes culminating in a bright yellow to orange caudal fin. A striking blue-black mask covers the eyes and a similarly-colored vertical band extends from the pectoral fin two-thirds of the way up the body This band is highlighted in a sapphire-blue in front, and bright yellow, caudally. The mouth is white. The juvenile emperor angelfish often hang out under ledges or near the mouth of caves, while adult emperor angelfish are more often seen patrolling over the open reef. Juveniles live alone and inhabit outer lagoon patch reefs or semi-protected exposed channels and reef flats. They tend to hang out at shrimp cleaning stations, feeding off parasites and dead skin of larger fish species. Subadults move to reef front holes and surge channels, while mature adults are found in caves in areas of rich coral growth on clear lagoon, seaward, or channel reefs. Males are territorial and seen patrolling over the open reef defending a large territory that is the home to two or more female emperor angelfishes An angelfish territory can be as large as 10,000 square feet. Adults are also known for making a low-frequency “knocking” sound if disturbed or threatened by divers.

Emperor angelfish are omnivorous, feeding on both small invertebrates and plants Sponges and algae are their primary diet. They have bulky, strong jaws that are able to chew up the sponges, which are made up of tiny, needle-like pieces of silica. This fish is a favorite among photographers, artists, and aquarists because of its unique, brilliant pattern of coloration. This species is generally associated with stable populations and faces no major threats of extinction.

Philatelic Details

Date of issue2014.08.22
DesignerSudath Jayawardane
Stamp size41mm × 30mm
Printing processOffset Lithography
Sheet Composition20 stamps per sheet
Perforations13 1/2 × 14
PrinterDepartment of Government Printing, Sri Lanka
Colours used4 Process Colours
Paper102 gsm security stamp paper
Quantity printedRs.7.00   – 2,000,000
Rs.10.00 – 2,000,000
Rs.15.00 – 2,000,000
Rs.25.00 – 1,000,000
Rs.35.00 – 2,000,000
Rs.50.00 – 1,000,000
Souvenir sheetRs.142.00 – 25,000

Catalogue Codes

Rs.7 stamp (Rock Pigeon)Michel LK 1999
Stamp Number LK 1937
Yvert et Tellier LK 1946
Stanley Gibbons LK 2266
WADP Numbering System – WNS LK018.14
Rs.10 stamp (Sperm whale)

Michel LK 2000
Stamp Number LK 1938
Yvert et Tellier LK 1947
Stanley Gibbons LK 2267
WADP Numbering System – WNS LK019.14
Rs.15 stamp (Blacktip Reef Shark)

Michel LK 2001
Stamp Number LK 1939
Yvert et Tellier LK 1948
Stanley Gibbons LK 2268
WADP Numbering System – WNS LK020.14
Rs.25 stamp (Black-wedged Butterfly Fish)

Michel LK 2002
Stamp Number LK 1940
Yvert et Tellier LK 1949
Stanley Gibbons LK 2269
WADP Numbering System – WNS LK021.14
Rs.35 stamp (Scaly Rock Crab)

Michel LK 2003
Stamp Number LK 1941
Yvert et Tellier LK 1950
Stanley Gibbons LK 2270
WADP Numbering System – WNS LK022.14
Rs.50 stamp (Knotted Fan Coral & Emperor Angelfish)Michel LK 2004
Stamp Number LK 1942
Yvert et Tellier LK 1951
Stanley Gibbons LK 2271
WADP Numbering System – WNS LK023.14
Rs.142 MSMichel LK BL146
Stamp Number LK 1942a
Yvert et Tellier LK BF135
Stanley Gibbons LK MS2272
WADP Numbering System – WNS LK023MS.14


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