New USPS Forever stamps showcase wildlife and ecosystems of marine sanctuaries

The images were photographed in the parks and monuments of the National Marine Sanctuary System and placed on the U.S. Postal Service's newest collection of stamps

The U.S. Postal Service recently released 16 new Forever stamps that feature wildlife and ecosystems found in the National Marine Sanctuary System.

The Sanctuary System is a network of marine protected areas spanning more than 600,000 square miles of marine and Great Lake waters, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. NOAA is the federal agency that oversees the Sanctuary System.


"The habitats protected by these marine sanctuaries and monuments help ensure the survival of threatened and endangered species," said William D. Zollars, a member of the USPS Board of Governors. "The National Marine Sanctuaries Forever stamps celebrate these habitats. Customers can share the beauty of these protected areas when they send mail to family and friends."

On Aug. 5, USPS and NOAA dedicated the 16 new Forever stamps highlighting the marine protected areas during a ceremony hosted at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center in Santa Cruz, California.


"The National Marine Sanctuary stamp series is a colorful celebration of the beauty, abundance, and diversity of our nation’s most iconic underwater places," said Paul M. Scholz, deputy assistant administrator for NOAA’s National Ocean Service.

"As these stamps circulate across the nation, we hope they’ll generate excitement about these incredible places and what people can do to help protect them," Scholz added.

What images are featured on the stamps

The 16 stamps feature images of the biodiversity across the National Marine Sanctuary System.

Here are the images, with the 16-stamp pane divided into two 8-stamp panes.

ROWS 1 and 2

Row 1:

  • Balloonfish in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (Photo by: Daryl Duda)
  • Pair of red-footed boobies Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (Photo by: Mark Sullivan)
  • Breaching humpback whale in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (Photo by: Elliott Hazen, NOAA)
  • Sea stacks in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (Photo by: Matt McIntosh, NOAA/National Marine Sanctuary Foundation)

Row 2:

  • Sunset at Mallows Bay–Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary (Photo by: Peter Turcik)
  • The Farallon Islands in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (Photo by: Norbert Wu)
  • Elkhorn coral in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (Photo by: Norbert Wu)
  • Hawaiian monk seal in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary (Photo by: Ed Lyman, NOAA)

ROWS 3 and 4

Row 3:

  • Queen angelfish in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (Photo by: G.P. Schmahl)
  • Sea otter in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (Photo by: Norbert Wu)
  • Young rockfish in the reef in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary (Photo by: Joseph Hoyt, NOAA)
  • Atlantic sea nettles in Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary (Photo by: Michael Durham)

Row 4:

  • Sea lions in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (Photo by: Jeff Harris, NOAA)
  • Sand tiger shark in Monitor National Marine Sanctuary (Photo by: Greg McFall, NOAA)
  • Rose Atoll in the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa (Photo by: Wendy Cover, NOAA)
  • Icy shoreline in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (Photo by: Kate Thompson, NOAA)

How USPS picks subjects for Forever stamps

Every year, USPS releases Forever stamps in dozens of designs.

The design of stamps is evaluated and selected by the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, a group appointed by the U.S. Postmaster General. According to USPS, the committee evaluates up to 30,000 possible stamp subjects annually, with the final decision for issuing a stamp being left to the Postmaster General.

Once they decide on a subject, USPS works with art directors who determine the best way to portray particular subjects. They are always looking for new artists, designers and photographers.

The first Forever stamp, sold in April 2007, featured an image of the Liberty Bell.