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Sea Monsters: Harpoon Snails - Fauna
Written By: Elizabeth Barrette (Writer), Deirdre / Wyld_Dandelyon (Editor), Ellen Million (Editor)
Large snail-like predator.
 
 

Jafork Furk (aka Jaff) (Red)
Jafork Fayark (aka Jaff) (Blue)

The harpoon snail is a medium-size predator. The red harpoon snail grows to 30-40 feet long, and is uncommon in the warm southerly waters. It prefers shallow seas and produces a red dye. The blue harpoon snail grows to 40-50 feet long, and is a rare deep-sea predator of the western ocean that is the source of a blue dye. They eat fish, aquatic mammals, and sometimes other sea monsters. They are eaten by giant sea turtles and occasionally other sea monsters.

Harpoon snails can change color quite well on the soft body parts and somewhat over the shell (which is covered by a thin membrane). At rest, the red harpoon snail is a reddish-brown with rings of coral or pink, while the blue harpoon snail is mottled in shades of bluish-gray. It looks a bit like a cross between a cone shell and a cuttlefish. The harpoon snail breathes water, pulling it over gills in the mantle cavity. Its well-developed osphradium gives it sophisticated awareness of chemistry, including changes in water composition and proximity of prey. It is attracted to former border lines and recolonized dead zones, readily spreading this way. They can live 10-15 years.

The female harpoon snail sometimes attacks small to large boats, mistakenly believing they are suitable hosts for her hatchlings. Eggs are fertilized inside the female's body; she then kills or paralyzes the largest prey she can find and deposits the egg sac inside. This nourishes the hatchlings for a while until they emerge as veligers (free-swimming larvae). They later metamorphose into veliconcha, baby snails that crawl on the sea floor, having a large shell in proportion to the foot. When they are 18-24 inches long, the veliconcha metamorphose again; the adult form is again free-swimming with a small shell in proportion to the foot and mantle.

This sea monster attacks individual humans eagerly, small boats regularly, and medium boats sometimes; if the harpoon snail penetrates the hull, the boat may sink, even if nobody is injured. The harpoon snail is rather smart for an animal, the blue harpoon snail markedly more so (though not as clever as the smartarm).

The harpoon snail is a threat because it most often attacks from under the boat where weapons cannot reach. When hunting swimmers, it strikes from concealment on the sandy bottom, amidst rocks or weeds, from under a dock, etc. Furthermore the shell completely protects all the vulnerable organs; the mantle is sensitive but not vital. The harpoon snail expects its prey to be killed or paralyzed by its venom, and when this doesn't happen, it typically repeats the attack. The most effective response is to dump noxious substances into the water, as these creatures are quite sensitive to water quality.

The shell can reach lengths of 12 feet on the red harpoon snail and is brick-red with pink or cream markings. The blue harpoon snail shell may reach 20 feet in length and is white with blue or gray markings. These shells figures into various crafts. A small shell may be strung with a tiny hammock to make a shell cradle for babies; the shell is big enough to create a hush of white noise that babies like.

The venom of both species is prized for killing other sea monsters. The poison from the red harpoon snail works faster and is stronger than that of the blue harpoon snail, although if it is not immediately fatal, the effect doesn't last as long. The potent venom also has medical uses, with neuromuscular effects. The red harpoon snail venom has more neurological effects, and will disorient, confuse and even blind a victim. Extracts have been used for preventing nerve death after a stroke or a head injury, blocking epileptic seizures, and quelling muscle spasms due to nerve damage. The blue harpoon snail has more muscular effects, and is often used as local anesthetic. As a weapon, it can paralyze. Both are used for painkillers in very small doses.

Before Upheaval: Several species had moderated populations throughout the globe.

Sundered Times: The pollution resulting from the Upheaval killed all of the harpoon snails except a population of the red harpoon snail in time shard #30 and a population of blue harpoon snails near the edge of shard #6; they were both thinned significantly in the wake of the Upheaval. The red harpoon snail made a quick recovery as some competing species died out and water quality improved, whereas the blue harpoon snail barely hung on in its shard.

Modern Times: The red harpoon snails spread from time shard #30 to shards #32, #13, #12, and #68; then into shards #33, and #69. It continues to benefit from the increased territory and largely clean waters. However, it experiences difficulty near large cities where water quality declines.

The largest population of blue harpoon snail is still in time shard #6, plus a big cluster in the shattered area between shards #6, #58, and #59. It spread from #6 into #58, #59, and #11. Although they are not doing well in areas where Imperial presence causes water pollution, the population of blue harpoon snails in open ocean is expanding.

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