Squirrel Fish

of the
Pitcairn Islands

Squirrel Fish minisheetThe Squirrel fish of Pitcairn stamp issue follows on from our Butterflies of the Reef issue, also the work of artist Sue Wickison, which was released two years ago.

Four of the many fish of the Holocentridae family, commonly found around the reefs of Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, in the Pitcairn group, are featured in this issue.  Squirrel fish, as they are known, are mainly red in colour.  They all have distinctive large mouths and eyes, the latter due to their nocturnal feeding habits.  Their large spines are venomous and wounds from these can be very painful.

40c Squirrel Fish
The 40c stamp shows the Crown Squirrel Fish Sargocentron diadema.  Identifiable by its distinctive stripes, the Crown Squirrel Fish inhabits the sub-tidal reef flats of the lagoons and the seaward sides of the reefs, to a depth of 30 metres or more.  It feeds around the reef ledges or crevices either singly or in groups and roams more openly at night.  It has a distinctive dorsal fin and grows to around 13cm.
80c Squirrel Fish

The Long Jawed Squirrel Fish Sargocentron spiniferum is featured on the 80c stamp.  Growing up to 36cm, this is the largest species of squirrel fish.  It inhabits the reefs and lagoons to depths greater than 120 metres, feeding on crabs, shrimps and small fishes, mostly venturing out at night.

$1.50 Squirrel Fish
The $1.50 stamp depicts the Tailspot Squirrel Fish Sargocentron caudimaculatum.  This distinctive fish grows to 21cm and is found in outer reef slopes dropping through depths ranging from 6 to 40 metres.  Hiding in holes and ledges during the day, it feeds mostly at night in these rich coral growth areas.

$3.00 Squirrel Fish
The Bloodspot Squirrel Fish Neoniphon samara, featured on the $3.00 stamp and on the sheetlet, is the most common of the squirrel fish, growing to 24cm.  The Bloodspot Squirrel Fish inhabits the seagrass beds of lagoons and the seaward reefs.  It is less secretive than other squirrel fish, moving about in small groups through branching corals and rocks at night, feeding upon small crabs and shrimps at depths of 45 metres or more.

Technical Details

Release Date               8 October 2003
Denominations             40c, 80c, $1.50, $3.00 (4 stamps)
                                   Miniature sheet $3.00       
Stamp Design              Sue Wickison, Wellington, NZ
Printer                         Joh Enschede, The Netherlands
Process                       Offset Lithography
Paper                          Sopal Satimat 110gsm
Stamp Size                  36mm x 36mm
Miniature Sheet Size    100mm x 80mm horizontal die cut
Pane                            2 x panes 25 stamps
Perforation Gauge        13.25 per 2cm
First Day Cover           $6.70 with four stamps
                                   $4.00 with miniature sheet