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Baalodorm (aka Brar)
The thunder-whale is the biggest Torn World omnivore, at 100-110 feet. It resembles a sperm whale with a rounder head over a delphine snout, somewhat like a beaked whale, and it is bigger than a blue whale. Thunder-whales are not very common, but more so in northerly than southerly waters. They are viviparous, bearing live young. They breed rather slowly, but can live a long time: typically about 100 years, but sometimes 150 or more. They have tremendous volume and control with their echolocation and sonic attacks. They can use sound to stun or kill predators, or use their snout for ramming.
Like other whales, they breathe air; they spout slightly forward, creating a large single plume shaped like a thundercloud. They are prodigious divers, with the longest breath-hold and deepest crush depth of air-breathing marine megafauna. They can reach depths of about 11,000 feet (about 3,400 meters) and hold their breath for 70-80 minutes. Average dives are 4-5,000 feet (1,200-1,500 meters). They dive both to hunt and to escape predators such as the heat-thief, smartarm, deathfin, sea serpent, and harpoon snail.
Thunder-whales use a combination of sound and swimming motion to create a vortex for feeding. They eat small fish, krill, phytoplankton, etc. Occasionally they will eat larger, soft-bodied prey such as sea jellies, jellyriggers, or smartarms. Large quantities of water are drawn in through the mouth to fill huge cheek pouches, then squeezed to filter out the water (released through a row of valves at the base of the pouches) and swallow the food. Their flesh is edible, though not particularly tasty; their blubber renders into a good lubricant, and can be used for candles or lamps.
They range widely through the oceans, happily going into inlets and bays or near islands, but not inland seas. Thunder-whales typically do not bother medium-size or smaller boats. They easily mistake large ships for predators and sometimes attack them. At ramming speed they can readily crush and sink even a large ship. Their sonic attack can damage ships, but is especially dangerous to humans. A sonic attack doesn't travel well from water to air, and is weaker if launched into air. It does travel just fine from water to a ship's hull, resonating from the hull into the air, so people belowdeck are at higher risk than those abovedeck. The sonic attack can cause serious pain or even deafness to people on a ship; swimmers in the water can be stunned or killed by it. A wide range of other effects have also been reported including disorientation, nausea, distorted vision, respiratory distress, seizures, cavitation leading to tissue damage, and brain damage. Thunder-whales are so big and tough that they are hard to kill by any means. Attacking the flippers and/or tail flukes can disable their mobility. Sometimes underwater noise can drive them away.
Before Upheaval: Several species and subspecies of thunder-whales were widely scattered through Torn World's ocean waters.
Sundered Times: The eastern thunder-whale subspecies survived in shards #52 and #32, the western thunder-whale in shards #62 and #69.
Modern Times: The eastern thunder-whale subspecies is black on top with a pale belly. It originates in shards #52 and #32. The first population spread from shard #52 to #54, #51, and #53; then from #53 to 34. The second population spread from shard #32 to #31, #33, and #30; and then to #34. Eastern thunder-whale populations merge on meeting. They stay east of the island chain in shard #30.
The western thunder-whale subspecies is blue-gray with a pale belly. The first population spreads from shard #69 to shard #11 and #58 and then to #6. The second population spreads from shard #62 to #63, #60, #61, and #59; then through shattered areas into #1 and #59, then through #58 and #60 into #3. Western thunder-whale populations merge on meeting. They stay west of the straits dividing the ocean from the sea.
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