|Date of Issue
|February 22, 2018
First-Class Mail® Forever®
|Perforation or Dimension
|1.56 x 0.98 in./39.62 x 24.89 mm
|Series Time Span
|Fort Pierce, FL 34981
On February 22, 2018, in Fort Pierce, FL, the U.S. Postal Service® will issue the Bioluminescent Life First-Class Mail® stamps (Forever® priced at 50 cents) in 10 designs, in a pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) pane of 20 stamps. The stamps will go on sale nationwide February 22, 2018.
Bioluminescent Life stamps celebrate the phenomenon of bioluminescence — the ability of some species to glow — with a pane of 20 stamps featuring 10 life-forms that create their own light. The stamp images represent the work of some of the top explorers of the bioluminescent ocean realm as well as two terrestrial bioluminescent life-forms:
On each row of stamps, the third and fourth stamps repeat the first two designs. The selvage also features the transparent deep-sea comb jelly (photo by Gregory G. Dimijian) and the firefly squid (photo by Danté Fenolio). Art director Derry Noyes designed the stamps and selvage from existing photographs.
Although these stamps do not glow in the dark, they do incorporate a special effect. The stamp pane was produced using a proprietary rainbow holographic material that is highly reflective in white light. The stamps were produced using special techniques to enhance the reflective qualities of the material while maintaining the depth of color and detail of the individual images. The rainbow pattern imparts a sense of movement and light to the stamp pane.
Fairly rare among species on land, bioluminescence reigns supreme in the darkness of the deep ocean. Fishes, squids, jellyfish, worms and many other ocean organisms make varied use of their ability to glow. Their light can lure food, attract a mate or fend off a predator. For many species, bioluminescence is security lighting. For example, the midwater jellyfish — featured on one of the stamps — sets off flashing swirling rings of light when threatened. The display alerts other predators more likely to eat the attacker than the jellyfish itself.
Some species are born with bioluminescence, while others, like certain fishes and squids, have receptacles for displaying bioluminescent bacteria that they capture.
Since the late 19th century, many breakthrough discoveries regarding bioluminescence have come through the study of fireflies and flickering beetles. Because these beetles exist on every continent except Antarctica, they provide scientists with the most convenient means by which to investigate the phenomenon.
Medical science has benefited tremendously from the study of luminous life-forms. Using genes that enable bioluminescence, scientists can make a cancer cell glow, enabling observation of how the disease behaves and spreads. Similar research is also vital in the fights against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, anemia, malaria, dengue fever, HIV and many other illnesses.
Through improved deep-sea exploration and advances in photography, scientists have identified thousands of bioluminescent species. Yet many mysteries of bioluminescence remain unsolved, and many benefits of research await discovery.