Kópakonan, Seal Woman of the Faroe Islands: A Story Told in Stamps

I’m keeping it short this time with a little follow-up to my previous post on selkies.

While searching for art and images related to selkies, I came upon some beautiful stamps from the Faroe Islands that deserve their own post. They are a series of 10 stamps inspired by the story of Kópakonan, or the Seal Woman, a well-known tale in the Faroe Islands.

These stamps were printed in 2007, and designed by Edward Fuglø, whose work ranges from the aforementioned stamp designs to paintings to children’s books to illustration to set and costume design.

Below you can see the stamps and the story they tell, in a much-abbreviated version. You can read the full version here.

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The Real Deal on Ringed Seals

The lovely patterns on the illustrated seals above aren’t just artistic license — in fact, they belong to a real species: the ringed seal. Ringed seals’ coats range from silvery rings on black/dark gray (from what I can tell, this is most common in the highly endangered Saimaa ringed seal), to a subtler ringed or splotched pattern.

Saimaa ringed seal
Lake Saimaa is home to under 400 Saimaa ringed seals — the entire population of this subspecies. Image via marinebio.org.

Ringed seals are common in the Arctic, but have only rarely been seen around the Faroe Islands. Gray seals actually make up the only breeding population of seals in the Faroe Islands. At one time, the harbor seal was probably the most common in the Faroe Islands, but that population was completely wiped out in the mid-1800s (as of 2010, only two harbor seals had been seen around the islands within the previous 40 years). Besides the links included already, I got some information from this illustrated report, “Marine Mammals in Faroese Waters.”

After this, I really will move on to the next topic, but I hope you’ve enjoyed your time among the selkies as much as I have!


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