The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (Environmental Protocol) was signed in Madrid on 4 October 1991 and entered into force in 1998. This year marks its 25th Anniversary of protecting the Antarctic environment. To date 37 nations have signed the Environmental Protocol and the UK implements it through the Antarctic Acts 1994 and 2013.
This unique international agreement provides for the comprehensive protection of the Antarctic environment and designates Antarctica as a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science. It prohibits mining and mineral resource activities in the Antarctic Treaty area except for scientific research purposes, provides a comprehensive framework for assessing environmental impacts in Antarctica and establishing contingency plans for prompt and effective response to any environmental emergencies. It is made up of six Annexes putting measures in place for the effective assessment of any environmental impact, the conservation of Antarctic fauna and flora, effective waste disposal and waste management procedures, the prevention of marine pollution, the protection and management of areas deemed to be of outstanding environmental, scientific, historic or scientific value and liability measures arising from environmental emergencies.
Krill plays a central role in the Antarctic ecosystem as a key source of food.
Although krill are small (up to 5cm in length) they form dense swarms which are a rich food source. Antarctic krill is a shrimp-like crustacean measuring about 6cm long. Although numbers of krill fluctuate, there are likely to be over 500 million tonnes of krill in the Southern Ocean. They begin their life feeding on algae beneath sea ice (in 'krill nurseries') and during the summer they leave the shelter of the ice and form swarms with millions of individuals (sometimes containing over 10,000 individuals per cubic metre of sea water).
66p Emperor Penguin
The emperor penguin is the tallest and heaviest of all penguins and is endemic to Antarctica.
The male and female are similar in plumage and size, reaching 122cm in height and weighing from 22 to 45 kg. The dorsal side and head are black and sharply delineated from the white belly with pale-yellow breast and bright-yellow ear patches. Emperor penguins are flightless, with a streamlined body and wings stiffened and flattened into flippers. The diet of an emperor penguin consists primarily of fish, krill and squid. An emperor penguin can remain submerged for up to 18 minutes and are able to dive to a depth of 535 m. The emperor penguin is the only penguin species that breeds during the Antarctic winter trekking 50 – 120 km over the ice to breeding colonies. The female lays a single egg which is incubated by the male while the female returns to the sea to feed. Parents take turns foraging at sea and caring for their chick. The lifespan of an emperor penguin is typically 20 years.
76p Weddell Seal
The Weddell seal was discovered and named in the 1820s during expeditions led by James Weddell, the British sealing captain, to the parts of the Southern Ocean now known as the Weddell Sea. It is a relatively large and abundant seal with a circumpolar distribution surrounding Antarctica. Weddell seals have the most southerly distribution of any mammal, with a habitat that extends as far south as McMurdo Sound (at 770S). The Weddell seal prefers in-shore habitats on shore-fast ice over free-floating pack ice. An estimated 800,000 individuals remain today. Weddell seal pups leave their mothers at a few months of age. In those months, they are fed by their mothers' warming and fat-rich milk. They leave when they are ready to hunt and are fat enough to survive in the harsh weather.
76p Humpback Whale
Probably the best known of the large whales as they often collect in groups near to land and draw attention to themselves by their behaviour. Breaching, lob-tailing and flipper-slapping are common and often occur several times in a row. They are named for the habit of raising and bending their back in preparation for a dive which accentuates the hump in front of the dorsal fin. The average weight is estimated at around 25 - 35 tonnes (sometimes more) with an average adult length of 12.9 m (males) 13.7 m (females).
£1.01 Halley VI Station
Halley Research Station is an internationally important platform for global atmospheric and space weather observation in a climate sensitive zone. It is managed by the British Antarctic Survey who provide the UK’s main presence in Antarctica. Built on a floating ice shelf in the Weddell Sea, Halley VI is the world’s first re-locatable research facility. This award-winning and innovative research station provides scientists with state-of-the-art laboratories and living accommodation, enabling them to study pressing global problems from climate change and sea-level rise to space weather and the ozone hole – first discovered at Halley in 1985.
£1.01 South Pole
The Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station is located on the polar plateau near the geographic South Pole, at 90° S. An area of approximately 26,400 km2 encompassing the station and long-term research and monitoring sites is designated as an Antarctic Specially Managed Area to manage human activities for the protection of scientific, environmental, and historical values.
The unique environmental conditions at South Pole Station provide special opportunities for scientific observation. The air is considered to be the cleanest air on earth, being far removed from pollution sources and human influence. As such, it is an important monitoring and research area for world background levels of natural and anthropogenic atmospheric constituents. Conditions in Antarctica reflect global change as well as indicate the regional role of Antarctica in the global climate. The thick ice serves as a storehouse of information about climate and atmospheric constituents.
The Ceremonial Pole (Historical Site and Monument No 1), surrounded by the flags of the twelve original Antarctic Treaty nations, commemorates the International Geophysical Year, and is symbolic of all expeditions that have reached the South Pole.
Designer: Bee Design
Printer: BDT International Security Printing
Perforation: 14 per 2cms
Stamp size: 42.58 x 28.45mm
Sheet Layout: 10
Release date: 13 November, 2016
Production Co-ordination: Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd
66p Krill: Chris Gilbert, BAS
66p Emperor Penguin: Doug Allan, BAS
76p Weddell Seal: Pete Bucktrout, BAS
76p Humpback Whale: Ullstein Bild, Getty Images
£1.01 Halley VI: Antony Dubber, BAS
£1.01 South Pole: Bill Spindler, U.S. Antarctic Program, National Science Foundation
FDC Treaty Flags: Jamie Oliver, BAS