Some 2,750 kilometres north-west of Perth, the remote Cocos (Keeling) Islands is in the eastern Indian Ocean near the western edge of the Pacific. Its location at the interface of the Pacific and Indian Oceans as well as the expanse of ocean lying between Cocos and Indonesia are factors fundamental to the composition of its marine life; while the marine life of Cocos is composed of many fish species common to the Indo-West Pacific, it is also home to many species that do not otherwise occur in the Indian Ocean, and this results in a fish community characterised by some hybridisation. The Cocos Pygmy Angelfish is known only in the waters of Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island.

Due to relatively little human-induced disturbance to the Cocos marine environment, its coral reef system is healthy and provides a good environment for the marine species it supports, which includes several hundred fish species. In 2022, the Australian government established the huge Cocos (Keeling) Islands Marine Park, a 467,054-square-kilometre conservation area, co-designed with the local community, that includes inshore coral reef and lagoon habitats, as well deep ocean environments.

This issue comprises 10 stamps, which together build an imagined subaquatic scene in the clear waters of this tropical territory. The photographs, taken by sometimes Cocos resident Karen Willshaw, represent a range of species belonging to nine fish families. Given the varying sizes of the fish, some artistic licence has been taken in showing them in a single scene.

Technical specifications

Issue date
21 March 2023
Issue withdrawal date
1 October 2023
$1.20 x 10
Stamp design
Jason Watts, Australia Post Design Studio
Product design
Jason Watts, Australia Post Design Studio
Paper: gummed
Tullis Russell 104gsm Red Phos.
Southern Impact
Printing process
Offset lithography
Stamp size (mm)
37.5 x 26
Minisheet size (mm)
170 x 90
13.86 x 14.6
Sheet layout
Large minisheet of 10
FDI Postmark
Cocos (Keeling] Islands WA 6799
FDI withdrawal date
19 April 2023

Stamps in this issue

$1.20 Greenlip Parrotfish

Scarus viridifucatus (family Labridae) is also known as the Roundhead and Green-snout Parrotfish. It grows to around 32 centimetres in length.

$1.20 Bluefin Trevally

With its electric-blue fins, Caranx melampygus (family Carangidae) grows to around 75 centimetres in length. It inhabits deeper lagoon and outer reef waters.

$1.20 Roundface Batfish

Also known as the Longfin and Tall-fin Batfish, Platax teira (family Ephippidae) has two dark vertical bars across its body, a dark blotch below its pectoral fin and often a yellowish pelvic fin. It grows to around 40 centimetres.

$1.20 Tomato Rockcod

Cephalopholis sonnerati (family Serranidae) is a striking grouper, coloured with a dense rich orange-red network of spots. It grows to around 57 centimetres.

$1.20 Checkerboard Wrasse

The brightly coloured Halichoeres hortulanus (family Labridae) can grow to around 27 centimetres in length and inhabits sand patches in lagoons.

$1.20 Gilded Triggerfish

The Gilded Triggerfish, Xanthichthys auromarginatus (family Balistidae), is also known as the Blue-throated Triggerfish. It grows to around 30 centimetres.

$1.20 Masked Rabbitfish

Siganus puellus (family Siganidae) is also known as the Bluelined Rabbitfish for the network of uneven silvery-blue lines that cover its body; the dark line through its eye makes ‘masked’ an equally appropriate common name. It grows to around 38 centimetres in length.

$1.20 Bluelined Surgeonfish

Growing to 38 centimetres, Acanthurus lineatus (family Acanthuridae) is well described by its common name, with blue and yellow lines running along its torso.

$1.20 Cocos Pygmy Angelfish

Centropyge joculator (family Pomacanthidae) measures just 9 centimetres in length. This little yellow and deep-blue fish is the only species endemic to Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island.

$1.20 Peppered Butterflyfish

Also known as Gorgeous Gussy, Chaetodon guttatissimus is characterised by rows of small, irregular spots. This diminutive species grows to a length of around just 12 centimetres.

Shop our stamp collectables

Large minisheet:

Reef Fish Large Minisheet

The Cocos (Keeling) Islands Reef Fish set of stamps is printed and sold as a large minisheet of 10x $1.20 stamps.

Stamp pack:

Reef Fish Stamp Pack

The Cocos (Keeling) Islands Reef Fish stamp pack contains the minisheet from the stamp issue presented in a high-quality folder.

Additional collectables:

This content was produced at the time of the stamp issue release date and will not be updated.