Each day off the coasts of various parts of Canada, hopeful passengers embark on tours that take them on a unique search that of spotting whales at rest or play. Passengers are often rewarded with a glimpse of these majestic creatures; the luckiest disembark with a photo or two. On October 2, 2000, Canada Post will issue four domestic-rate ($0.46) commemorative stamps featuring whales that inhabit Canadian waters. Of the 35 species recorded in these waters, 21 are "common" or "regular." From these 21, two baleen (not-toothed) and two toothed whales have been selected for Canada Posts Whales issue.
The blue whale, one of the largest animals that has ever lived, can reach lengths of up to 33 metres and weigh up to 190 tonnes. As its name suggests, it is blue-grey in colour and has mottled light blue-grey oval spots on its flanks. Being a baleen whale, the blue has plates in its mouth with coarse bristles functioning as a filter to strain plankton, krill, and small fish. Most frequently spotted in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the blue also inhabits waters off the coasts of Nova Scotia and British Columbia. However, the blue whale is now classed as "endangered," with only a few hundred left in the North Atlantic.
About the Artist
When Vancouver designer and illustrator Keith Martin began researching the subject matter for the Whales issue, scale became one of the most compelling aspects. His challenge in designing the stamps lay in using the space afforded by a postage stamp to accurately portray the majesty of the largest living animal ever. Resolution came by way of arranging the species into a single scene over the entire stamp pane, with each stamp focusing on a single whale and also carrying a fragment of the blue whale. By this arrangement, all whales are accurately portrayed in their range of relative size and physical characteristics. To carry the scene of this ethereal environment, metallic ink was used to mimic the play of light and current underwater.