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The weed-eater is a smaller (up to 20 ft) inshore herbivore, and is widespread in Torn World waters. A weed-eater looks somewhat like a porpoise with a long funnel on its face. The funnel mouth is used to suck up strands of kelp and other aquatic plants. Weed-eaters breathe air; they can hold their breath for 5-10 minutes when active or 15-20 minutes when inactive. They are not deep divers, only going down about 20-25 feet; usually they stay near the surface. They have sonar, although it lacks the range of deeper-water animals; they use it primarily for navigation in turbid water. They are slow and rather clumsy swimmers, like a manatee.
Weed-eaters are viviparous, bearing live young into the water, often twins. They breed somewhat faster than manatees or porpoises. They can live 30-40 years, if not eaten by something. They are favored prey of inshore predators such as trapjaws and soldierfish.
Humans sometimes kill and eat them too; their soft, thick flesh makes them easy to injure but it's difficult to reach a vital organ. A deep stabbing or slashing blow just behind the head may sever the spine. These peaceful animals will not bother people in the water or attack boats on purpose. Unfortunately, they are as dumb as rocks, and they sometimes mistake anchor ropes for seaweed. They also feed just below the surface; accidentally hitting one in a small boat can damage or capsize the boat.
Before Upheaval: Many species and subspecies existed. Unfortunately a majority were obligate migrants.
Sundered Times: When the time barriers blocked their routes, the migratory species died out. Species that could adapt to a smaller range survived: northern weed-eater in time shards #1 and #3, interior weed-eater in shards #34, #10 and #15, and eastern weed-eater in shards #54 and #34. With the competition from their migratory cousins removed, their populations expanded to fill the available territories.
Modern Times: The northern weed-eater is white to pale blue-gray with deep yellow lightning-bolt streaks on funnel, edging the fins, and outlining genitalia. Its first population spread from time shard #1 through shard #67 to #60. Its second population spread from time shard #3 to #60 and #6.
The interior weed-eater is beige to caramel with lime green pinstripes on funnel, fins, and outlining genitalia. Its first population spread from time shard #34 into #35 and #36; then into shards #50, #37, and #27. Its second population spread from time shard #15 and #10 into #27, #16, #17 and #12. From shard #12 it has spread into #11 and #14. It has continued from time shard #11 toward shard #69 and 68; and from shard #14 through #13 and #66 into #30. The interior weed-eater tends to stay west of the island chain in time shard #30.
The eastern weed-eater is black to medium gray with broad wavy stripes of hot pink on funnel, hot pink centers on fins outlined in black, and hot pink outlining genitalia. Its first population spread from time shard #54 into #51; then from shard #51 into #50 and #52; then from shard #52 into #53. Its second population spread from time shard #34 into #53 and #33; then through #31 and #32 into #30. The eastern weed-eater tends to stay east of the island chain in time shard #30.
Different populations of the same weed-eater species merge upon meeting. They identify each other based on the brightly colored markings. Weed-eaters of different coloration patterns do not find each other sexually attractive. Crossbreeding rarely occurs, and almost never results in viable young. This makes them different species.
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