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Marine Fauna of Slovenia stamps covered with sea salt

Marine Fauna of Slovenia stamps covered with sea salt
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A new issue in the Fauna series by Posta Slovenije shows four characteristic denizens of the Slovenian sea: Damselfish (Chromis chromis), Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), Common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) and Golden grey mullet (Liza aurata) stamp in miniature sheet.

Damselfish (Chromis chromis) is an oval, laterally compressed fish. It has a small mouth and large eyes. It grows to a maximum length of 12 cm. The damselfish is a common species in the sea off the coast of Slovenia and is found in abundance throughout the Mediterranean. It lives in large groups and prefers rocky bottoms and shallow depths. In summer, which is the mating season, male fish prepare nests on hard or rocky bottoms and perform a courtship dance to persuade the females to deposit their eggs. The male then guards the nest and uses his fins to fan fresh water over the eggs. The damselfish feeds on small crustaceans that live in the water column. The damselfish has no economic value other than its aesthetic value to aquarists. This species can also be successfully bred in an aquarium.

Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta): a marine reptile with a shell divided into two sections: the upper section or carapace and the lower section or plastron. Identifying this species is very easy because its carapace is made up of five pairs of costal plates or scutes. The upper shell is a red-brown colour, while the lower shell is yellow. The loggerhead sea turtle can live for more than 80 years. It can grow to a length of more than 100 cm and can weigh more than 200 kg. Like all sea turtles, the loggerhead comes ashore every few years to lay between 80 and 150 eggs in warm, damp sand. It can lay three to four clutches in a single nesting year. The loggerhead is a carnivore. It feeds on sponges, jellyfish, crabs, molluscs and fish. Like all species of sea turtles, the loggerhead is an endangered species because of the destruction of the sandy beaches on which they nest, tourism, pollution of the sea with rubbish, and accidental entanglement in fishing gear such as trawls, onglines and anchored nets.

Common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis): the cuttlefish belongs to the class Cephalopoda, which means that its feet grow from its head. It has ten tentacles on its head – eight short "arms" and two longer tentacles – which it uses to seize its prey. Because its tentacles grow from a muscular foot, the cuttlefish also uses its shorter tentacles for walking. All the tentacles are lined with suckers. Placed among the tentacles is the mouth, with a jaw reminiscent of a parrot's beak, which the cuttlefish uses to tear its prey. The body is fringed by swimming membrane, which the cuttlefish uses to swim forwards. By squeezing water through the funnel, the cuttlefish can swim backwards. In the case of danger, the cuttlefish squirts ink into the water through the funnel and, in the resulting black cloud, hides from its enemies and swims away to safety.

Golden grey mullet (Liza aurata): the body of the golden grey mullet is fusiform and somewhat laterally compressed. It can grow to a maximum length of approximately 45 cm. The upper lip is thin. It has a single gold spot on the gill plate and often a single smaller spot behind the eye. The pectoral fins are long and pointed (with no black spot at the pectoral fin base). The head is broad and flattened above the eyes. The back is grey/blue. The flanks are silvery and the belly is white. This golden grey mullet lives in coastal waters, above all in rocky littoral areas, but is also found in estuaries and lagoons. Of all mullet species, the golden grey mullet has the highest tolerance for salt water. The meat of this fish is highly prized in winter, when the catching of mullet in the Bay of Portoroz is a traditional event.

The stamps were printed using a very special thermography technique, and Posta Slovenije is proud to be the first national postal service to issue stamps on which part of the design is covered with real salt from the Piranske Soline saltworks.

Illustrations and design are made by Matjaz Ucakar, printed by Cartor Security Printing S. A., France.

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