|Official Name||Flats Glider|
|Common Nicknames||Lakestinger, Spotted Seadish|
|Habitat||Mudflats and rivers of Essalonia|
Large yet swift in the water, the Flats Glider is both a prized and dreaded catch for any fisherpeople of Veløya in Essalonia. Found within the large island’s mudflats, the Flats Glider is a large freshwater stingray notorious for its size and near-extinction at the hands of Ailor around 240 AC. They remain a rare species, their careful cycle of reproduction heavily disrupted by the arrival of outsiders who have slowly begun to vilify them, as their dangerous stingers, while a defensive measure, is debilitating if not lethal to those that are struck by them. Their future is uncertain, but the desire for their meat remains strong, and some believe it is only a matter of time before they vanish from the island.
The Flats Glider was relatively unknown for centuries, not being identified in any meaningful way by the Proto-Velheim Ailor who settled Veløya around 300 BC. Why is unclear, but is is likely that the Maerrow, who once populated the same mudflats as the Flats Glider, took up far more Ailor attention, and also compelled this Race to keep out of areas regularly inhabited by these bottom-dwelling fish. Others believe that if the Proto-Velheim did encounter the creatures, the Flats Glider were considered simply creatures of the deep, made some abstract, murderous creation of the Union of Water. Shortly after the Cataclysm however, the Flats Glider was revealed as fact due to a range of encounter with the Velheim seeking new areas to fish. Often large and imposing, to catch a Flats Glider later proved to sometimes be deadly, and for the regional Velheim, such a challenge was greatly captivating. Techniques to hunt the animal improved, but some came to realize the damage this was doing to the creature’s population. Unlike normal animals which reproduce on a fairly routine schedule, it appeared that the spawning season for this species of fish was far different, and killing so many adults, and often adult males, was threatening the continued existence of the species. Such people sounded the alarm in 240 AC, and most regions restricted the hunting of this animal soon after. But irreversible damage has likely been done. Since that time, deaths from Flats Gliders have only increased as the animal now fears Humans, and lashes out much quicker than before. Still, its numbers are low, and some question if the efforts to stop pursuits of the Flats Glider will amount to anything.
The Flats Glider is a large species of stingray, with an almost circular shape to their flat bodies, reaching a diameter of seven feet on the largest members of the species (though a true length of around ten feet when including their tails), and a weight of several hundred pounds. Their eyes are located on the topside of their body, being large and dark blue. This is the sum of their physical features, as their mouth and further orifices are on their white undersides, out of sight to normal eyes. Their tails are quite long, and come to a distinct point, and have hidden, somewhere along their length, a pair of stingers, one fully matured primed, with a second one developing, ready to replace it once the other is fully gone, or itself is fully mature, replacing the main stinger and causing a new one to begin development. Their topside coloration is a mix of beiges with a series of pairing, bright yellow spots close to the hem of their flat forms.
Flats Gliders have little difference between the genders, lacking sexual dimorphism or obvious physical traits to indicate which sex is which. Additionally, due to their plummeted numbers and poor observation in the early years of contact with colonists, it is unknown what ratio of males to females was caught, a method to suggest what possible ratio exists in the wild.
Life Span and Development
The life cycle of the Flats Glider can only be guessed at based on the activities of marine stingrays since the disruption to their reproduction cycle has greatly masked their reproductive activities. It is assumed after insemination by a male, a female will break off, and eventually give birth to live babies in groups of anywhere from five to twenty. Small, but immediately functional, they receive little to no help from their mother and survive based on instinct for the remainder of their lives. It was estimated that the species can live as much as a century old, though others suggest something far closer to twenty years, as few fish are known to even break the decade mark unless cared for in enclosed, controlled surroundings.
Flats Gliders are not aggressive, despite some tales among the Velheim. Instead, they are merely focused on survival, whipping their tails around to sting a target when seeking escape, or when they are stepped on. This occurs because, like other stingrays, the Flats Glider buries itself into the bottom of a body of water, masking its form with sand, mud, and other debris. The animal is carnivorous but only feeds on other forms of freshwater life, such as snails, frogs, crustaceans, and other small creatures. They also can and do eat baby members of their species, but that is the circle of life and is not a malicious act (despite the symbolism often attributed to it). They also never seek to eat those they harm with their stinger or toss into the water after overturning their fishing boat. Further information on their mentality is unknown.
Territory and Groupings
Flats Gliders are largely sedentary, operating in a stretch of water several miles in square footage, and shifting this location based on surrounding environmental factors. They lack a territorial streak, but, for the sake of survival and growth in size, few ever live near one another or drastically overlap their living grounds.
- Flats Gliders are known for providing short boosts to schools of local fish, who use the current formed in the Glider’s wake to conserve energy.
- Flats Glider meat is said to be similar in taste to shark meat, but with a sweeter tang and a bit more chew to it. The animal is also heavy in fat. They are most commonly eaten in local stews.