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Sea Monsters: Deathfin - Fauna
Written By: Elizabeth Barrette (Writer), Ellen Million (Editor)
A long-necked, predator of the southern seas that is a leading cause of injury and death among warsailors.

Baqavirn (aka Baq)

The biggest (40-60 ft) southern predator is the deathfin. It resembles Plesiosaurus dolichodeirus, an extremely long-necked dinosaur, but with a larger head and a longer tail ending in a rounded rudder. It breathes air; it can dive to about 1,000 feet (about 300 meters) and hold its breath for 40-50 minutes. Its four limbs have evolved into lanceolate paddles, smooth and clean without visible digits or claws. It is typically dark green shading to pale green on the belly, with yellow or white streaks on the undersides of its large paddles. Long sharp teeth remain visible when the mouth is closed; once detached from the jaw, these make fine windchimes. Its thin forked tongue is bright orange. The arrowhead shape of the head comes from the powerful jaw hinges and muscles; like a snake, the deathfin's jaw can unhinge to swallow big chunks of food (including a whole human or a seal). The deathfin can likewise coil and strike with its neck much the way a snake does with its body. Internal ballast control makes it possible to raise the neck and head well out of the water without tipping the body downward.

A huge rounded dorsal fin gives this sea monster its name; the dark green background may be streaked or freckled with vivid yellow or orange. Normally folded flat, the fin becomes erect for use. The deathfin is a smaller relative of the heat-thief from northerly waters but it lacks the thermovore organ; it can't go into cold water. When chilled, it surfaces and extends its fin to bask. It is also far more inclined than the heat-thief to use this fin as a sail for propulsion. The fin can actually be tanned intact and used as a sail on small watercraft, or shaped into a low cone for a beach umbrella.

Deathfins range through the warm southerly oceans, going into inlets and bays or near islands if the bottom falls away rapidly to deep water. They may go into deep parts of some seas, but rarely into shallow parts. Although they avoid certain areas near coasts, they will come quite close to land in some areas with steep bottoms. Regrettably they favor the same kind of channels and harbors that are ideal for shipping. They can live a long time, about 80-90 years. They are ovoviviparous, carrying eggs internally to birth live young into the water. When young, they eat big fish, dolphins, seals, and small whales; as adults, they eat larger whales and other sea monsters. The deathfin itself is somewhat edible; deathfin stew is a bit like shark fin soup. They are sometimes attacked by other sea monsters, such as harpoon snails or soldierfish.

They will attack medium-size boats, occasionally large ones if they're really hungry. They are also territorial about things near their own size. Deathfins are uncommon but exceptionally dangerous; they are nimble though not particularly fast swimmers. A long, flexible neck ending in a large, sharp-toothed head makes it easy for this sea monster to reach right into ships and bite people or devour freshly caught fish while the body remains out of the reach of most weapons. Aiming to decapitate it or cut its throat is a good strategy for close combat, but warsailors also attempt to keep them away from boats with spring-wound harpoon cannons and other range weapons. Deathfins constitute a leading cause of injury and death among warsailors.

Before Upheaval: There was one species with limited tropical range. It was not very common, and was protected in what became time shard #11.

Sundered Times: One surviving population existed in shard #11. It eventually filled its available territory.

Modern Times: One surviving species is known. Thus far it has spread from shard #11 into #6, #12, #58 and #69 and from shard #69 to shard #68. It is unlikely to move much farther north due to water temperatures. It might get into the interior sea, but most of the water there is shallower than this species prefers. Gradual expansion further east into the deep parts of the gulf is probable, and into the warm parts of the eastern ocean is possible. The deathfin is still fairly uncommon, but only because it's large enough to require a big territory for feeding.

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