This is a particularly fine souvenir sheet designed by Keith Martin is from 2000 and shows off a Blue Whale in the centre which is so big he takes up more space than four stamps allow! The other three stamps each have a fragment of the blue which helps to show the relative size of each of these mammals of the sea. On the bottom left is a Narwhal with its unicorn looking tusk who lives up in the Arctic. The top right has a Beluga with its permanent smile that lives in shallower waters like the mouth of the St Lawrence River. And, over on the top left, is the Bowhead which lives in the Arctic and sub-Arctic. The Blue lives in the Gulf of St Lawrence and also off the coasts of Nova Scotia and British Columbia.
The Narwhal and Beluga are both 'toothed whales' and as such will hunt and chase their food – fish, crab, squid – and when they catch something with their teeth, swallow it whole. The Blue and Bowhead, on the other hand, are known as 'baleen whales' for their keratin baleen plates that act like a comb to strain their food. While being some of the largest animals on earth, they end up eating some of the smallest creatures – plankton, krill, small schooling fish – sometimes by just swimming around with their mouths open.
Here is another blue whale stamp – one that I don't have, but I just had to show it. As befits the largest animal, the stamp is both the largest in size and denomination of any Canadian stamp. It measures 128 mm x 49 mm (or, for those of us who still have little idea what a mm looks like, 5" x 2.9") and was designed by illustrator Suzanne Duranceau. Only 1,500,000 of them were printed, whereas 8,000,000 of the other whales were set loose on the public.