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Raadorb (aka Daarb)
The giant sea turtle is a medium-size (30-35 feet) omnivore, adaptable to many marine habitats; it can live in all oceans except polar ones. Strong claws tip the four flippers. It has a sturdy oval shell with backward-tilted peaks, similar to a snapping turtle, and a high bony crest on the head as well. A sharp beak and massive jaw strength allow the giant sea turtle to bite through almost anything. It has a keen sense of smell, and good sight underwater but poor on land. Coloring is mottled in shades of dark green, brown, and golden yellow.
The giant sea turtle is usually slow moving, but can swim fast and strike at great speed. Its core body temperature is slightly higher than surrounding water in cold regions. It breathes air but has an anaerobic mode like other sea turtles; it is an excellent diver with a maximum depth of about 4500 feet (about 1,400 meters), maximum time 60-70 minutes, and average time 5-10 minutes. The giant sea turtle has chelonian salt glands like other sea turtles, located near the eyes; these produce solid "saltpearls" excreted with small amounts of liquid saltwater, hence the legends about turtles weeping "tears of pearl." Their lifespan is around 100-125 years.
Like other sea turtles, the giant sea turtle breeds on beaches. A female may lay 50-100 eggs in a sandy nest. The eggs are delicious, popular with humans, trapjaws, paddlefish, and various other sea monsters and scavengers. Hatchling sex is influenced by sand temperature, with warmer sands producing more females. Hatchlings emerge covered in egg slime which is bitter and toxic due to females eating sea jellies. This initial protection means that far fewer giant sea turtle hatchlings get eaten on the beach or just after entering the ocean, compared to most ordinary Earth sea turtle species (although some other Torn World sea turtles share this trait). It fades within a day, so the young may fall prey to larger predators at that time. Eventually they grow larger and eat enough sea jellies to start secreting their own repellent coating as adults do.
Giant sea turtles eat seaweed and sea grass, plus sea jellies, corals, molluscs, crustaceans, squid, octopus, and fish; they are also scavengers. They are particularly fond of jellyriggers, and they are immune to the venom of jellyriggers and other sea jellies. Young giant sea turtles are eaten by many species, but adults are rarely hunted by other predators due to their impenetrable shells. They are a vital part of beach and undersea ecosystems because of the way they cycle nutrients and keep the sea grass cropped short.
Humans find giant sea turtles useful for their edible flesh, the "saltpearls" from chelonian salt glands, and the skin of their flippers which may be tanned for boots or other items. The colorful tortoiseshell shows shades of translucent green, brown, and amber; it is used for combs and many other crafted objects. The eggs are also dug up and eaten. Most conflicts between giant sea turtles and humans, therefore, are started by the humans.
Giant sea turtles are difficult to kill. The shell protects them from projectile weapons; about the only clear shot is between the front flippers and the neck when the neck is at maximum extension, so a killing shot requires skilled teamwork. They can break or cut their way out of most nets or fishing lines. They often tangle in fishing nets, longlines, anchor or mooring ropes, etc. and cause problems by freeing themselves. They can bite through or smash small to medium boats, and may crack even large ones. They usually won't attack swimmers unless bothered first. They will attack humans on land if disturbed, especially while nesting. Unlike many sea monsters, they don't necessarily attack to kill, and often ignore an injured human who is no longer threatening them. Giant sea turtles are capable of biting arms or legs off a human, and are a leading cause of such amputations.
Before Upheaval: Multiple species of large sea turtles existed, along with ordinary sea turtles. (None of these were as big as the later giants.) They exhibited varying degrees of philopatry. Most species were rare, prior to the Upheaval, some more than others, but they were widespread around Torn World.
Sundered Times: As the time shards cut off access, species with strong philopatry died out because they could not return to their home beaches to nest. Less discriminating species of sea turtles survived. In shard #69, one species grew into the giant sea turtle. There, it had few predators, abundant food, and plenty of beach space for nesting.
Modern Times: The giant sea turtle is a formidable hunter, supplementing its grazing with live prey. With the greatest jaw strength of any sea monster, it can bite through nearly anything -- the armor plates of a soldierfish, the hull of a boat, etc. It has spread rather quickly through the waters of Torn World from shard #69 to shards #58, #11, and #68. Then it spread from shard #58 into #59, from shard #11 into #6, and from shard #68 to shards #12 and #30. Recently it has moved from #30 into #32 and #33. The giant sea turtle is adaptable enough to keep spreading quite a bit north along the western and eastern coasts, and fill out the rest of the central gulf and perhaps a bit into the interior sea.
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