USPS Sharks Forever Stamps Based on Underwater Photo

USPS Sharks Forever Stamps Based on Underwater Photo

Millions of Sharks Surface at the Nation’s Post Offices: #SharksStamps


Newport, KY—The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is celebrating the wonder of sharks by issuing the Sharks Forever stamps. The stamps feature five species that inhabit American waters: the mako, thresher, great white, hammerhead and also the whale shark.

Underwater photographer Norbert Wu’s great white shark photo is the basis of an illustration by Sam Weber that was used to create the Great Shark Forever stamp. The Postal Service receives about 40,000 suggestions for stamp ideas each year but only about 25 make the cut.
Sharks-Forever-Stamp-SheetThe stamps are now available at Post Offices nationwide. Moreover, the First-Day-of-Issue ceremony took place at 8 a.m. ET at the Newport Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky.

Artist Sam Weber of Brooklyn, New York, based his five illustrations for the stamps on images captured by undersea photographers. Using those references and the guidance of shark experts, he created realistic depictions of sharks in action. Sketching first with a pencil, Weber then used his computer to add detail, dimension and also color. In addition, art director Derry Noyes of Washington, DC, designed the pane.

“While sharks may be scary to some, the prospect of a world without sharks is truly frightening,” said Jeffrey Williamson, chief human resources officer and executive vice president of the U.S. Postal Service. “As apex predators, sharks keep other marine life in balance, and by doing so, they play a critical role in regulating our largest ecosystem—the oceans.

“As one of the nation’s oldest public service institutions, the Postal Service takes pride in using its stamps to raise awareness of important issues. We hope the stamps unveiled today help highlight the need for shark conservation and a greater respect and admiration for these incredible animals.”

Sharks: Misunderstood Creatures

Possibly no other creatures are as mythologized—and as misunderstood—as sharks. Blockbuster thrillers as well as sensationalized media have fueled belief that sharks are monsters. While they are ancient creatures having emerged twice as long ago as the first dinosaurs, after 400 million years of evolutionary refinements, sharks are extraordinarily advanced organisms. The 500 or so known shark species are ideally adapted for their ecological role.

Great White Shark Forever Stamp

Furthermore, the adaptations of sharks include light, flexible skeletons of cartilage, teeth replaced without limit, and skin covered by a hydrodynamic surface of tiny tooth-like structures. Their keen senses include one that detects electrical signals given off by prey and enables navigation by Earth’s magnetic field. Moreover, their nervous systems are adapted to sense minuscule water movements from a struggling, far-off fish, for instance.

Primal fears aside, people threaten sharks more than they do people. Sharks are over fished—often before reaching reproductive maturity. Cutting off fins for a soup delicacy also collapses populations. However, now shark ecotourism allows us to witness their grace. Also, increased study expands our knowledge of these creatures.

Sharks Forever Stamps

Shortfin Mako Shark Stamp

The first row of the stamps features the swift, streamlined shortfin mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) knifing through the water near. The second stamp on the first row shows a pelagic thresher (Alopias pelagicus). The most distinctive feature of this shark is its unique, whip-like tail that rounds up and stuns prey.

Thresher Shark Stamp

Weber began his illustration assignment with the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias)—the third stamp on the first row. Its notorious jaws are packed with sharp, serrated teeth. This artwork inspired the style as well as palate that Weber used to portray the other sharks.

Furthermore, The fourth stamp on the first row depicts the world’s largest fish, the filter-feeding, bus-size whale shark (Rhincodon typus). Docile and colossal, it skims for plankton, fish and also squid. It is repeated as the first stamp in the second row.

Hammerhead Shark Stamp

The second stamp on the second row features the hammerhead shark. The broad head of the hammerhead, represented by this scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini), has sensors that detect sand-buried stingrays.

The image of the great white shark looms large on the wide margin of selvage at the top, with the issuance title “SHARKS.” The shade of blue on the selvage deepens as one looks down the pane, suggesting sunlight barely penetrating the ocean depths.

First-Day-of-Issue Postmarks

Customers have 60 days to obtain first-day-of-issue postmarks by mail. They may purchase new stamps at Post Office locations or at the Postal Store, as well as by calling 800-782-6724.

They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes to themselves or others and place them in larger envelopes addressed to: FDOI – Sharks Stamps, USPS Stamp Fulfillment Services, 8300 NE Underground Drive, Suite 300, Kansas City, MO 64144-9900.

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for postmarks up to a quantity of 50. For more than 50, customers are charged 5 cents each. All orders must be postmarked by September 26, 2017.

First-Day Covers

The Postal Service also offers first-day covers for new stamps and stationery items postmarked with the official first-day-of-issue cancellation. Each item has an individual catalog number and is offered in the quarterly USA Philatelic catalog, online at or by calling 800-782-6724.

Customers may request a free catalog by calling 800-782-6724 or writing to: U.S. Postal Service, Catalog Request, PO Box 219014, Kansas City, MO 64121-9014.

Philatelic Products

There are nine philatelic products for the Shark Forever stamps issue:

•    474506, Press Sheet with Die-cut, $88.20.
•    474510, Digital Color Postmark Keepsake (set of 5), $18.95.
•    474516, First-Day Cover (set of 5), $4.65.
•    474521, Digital Color Postmark (set of 5), $8.20.
•    474524, Framed Art, $29.95.
•    474527, Folio, $18.95.
•    474530, Ceremony Program, $6.95.
•    474533, Panel, $10.95.
•    474534, Stamp Ceremony Memento, $21.95.

Norbert Wu

An independent photographer and filmmaker, Wu specializes in marine issues. His writing and photography have appeared in thousands of books, films and also magazines. He is the author and photographer of 17 books on wildlife as well as photography.

Norbert Wu

He is also the originator and photographer for several children’s book series on the oceans. Exhibits of his work have been shown at the American Museum of Natural History, the California Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Museum of Wildlife Art.

In addition, Wu was awarded National Science Foundation (NSF) Artists and Writers Grants to document wildlife and research in Antarctica in 1997, 1999 and 2000. In 2000, he was awarded the Antarctica Service Medal of the United States of America “for his contributions to exploration and science in the U.S. Antarctic Program.” His films include a pioneering HDTV program on Antarctic’s underwater world for Thirteen/WNET New York’s Nature series that airs on PBS.

Moreover, Wu is the only photographer to have been awarded a Pew Marine Conservation Fellowship. The fellowship is the most prestigious award in ocean conservation and outreach. He was also named 2004 Outstanding Photographer of the Year by the North American Nature Photographers Association. That is the highest honor an American nature photographer can be given by his peers.