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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, December 11, 2003

Hawai'i to launch reef stamps

By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Kaua'i Bureau

A pane of 10 stamps reproduces a scene painted by John D. Dawson that is actually more typical of the reefs off Guam. The 37-cent stamps go on sale in Hawai'i on Jan. 2.

U.S. Postal Service

LIHU'E, Kaua'i — You'll be able to put a piece of tropical coral reef on your letters next year, with the new Pacific Coral Reef stamps being issued by the U.S. Postal Service.

Seaweed expert and University of Hawai'i professor Isabella Abbott plans to use the new stamps on her mail. "I always buy commemorative stamps," she said. "The only problem is that they come up so frequently now that it's hard to keep track of them."

The stamps will be produced in panes of 10 that together depict a scene on a painting by Hilo artist John D. Dawson. Although they are being launched in Hawai'i, the scene shows a reef typical of the waters near Guam, with more than two dozen forms of marine life, including corals, sharks, eels, sea cucumbers and such delicate ocean beauties as Spanish dancers and clown triggerfish.

Postmaster General John E. Potter will introduce the new 37-cent stamps at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 2 at the Waikiki Aquarium. They'll be available at post offices in Hawai'i that day, and across the country the next day.

The coral reef stamps are the sixth in an annual series celebrating the nation's plant and animal communities. Deserts, rain forests, prairies, forests and tundra have been featured in the Nature of America series.

First-day issue

The stamps will be on sale in Hawai'i post offices Jan. 2 and across the nation the next day.

To order a first-day-of-issue postmark, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope within 30 days of issuance to Pacific Coral Reef Stamps, Postmaster, 3600 Aolele St., Honolulu HI 96620-3670.

For more information, a catalogue of U.S. stamps, or to order stamps, call (800) STAMP-24 or check the Postal Store on the Web at www.usps.com/shop.

The last ceremony in the Islands celebrating the first day of a stamp issue was the Aug. 24, 2002, release of the Duke Kahanamoku stamp.

"We sort of know about the importance of reefs in Hawai'i, but this may help the rest of the country catch up with us," said Mark Heckman, Waikiki Aquarium acting director of education.

Coral reefs help build islands, he said, noting that Waikiki sits on a thick shelf of coral. The reefs protect coastline, build sand for beaches, provide fishing opportunities and opportunities for snorkeling, surfing and tourism, he said.

The Postal Service is printing 7.6 million of the 10-stamp panes.

Reach Jan TenBruggencate at jant@honoluluadvertiser.com or (808) 245-3074.