|Official Name||Flats Glider|
|Common Nicknames||Lakestinger, Spotted Seadish|
|Habitat||Tidal and mudflats of Essalonia|
Large yet swift in the water, the Flats Glider is both a prized and dreaded catch for any fisherpeople of the New Ceardian Colonies. Found in freshwater tidal and mudflats of the continent, the Flats Glider is a large freshwater stingray notorious for its size and near-extinction at the hands of overeager colonists who began flooding to Essalonia in 240 AC. They remain rare, 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 fresh, raw lands of Essalonia.
The Flats Glider was relatively unknown for centuries, not being identified in any meaningful way by the Velheim Ailor who breezed through the area in the decades before the Cataclysm. Others believe that. if they did encounter the creatures, they were considered simply creatures of the deep, made some abstract, murderous creation of the Union of Water, and then killed. This also supposes that the creatures were totally cleared out of the area that now makes up Arlora and Torse. Even if this is not the case, the Flats Glider still remained until well after the Cataclysm came to pass, and the Regalian Empire rose to conquer the Ailor world. The New Ceardian Colonies began to be established within Essalonia in the 240s AC by the Regalian Empire, seeking new raw materials, and to decrease growing population pressures within certain areas of their society. During this time, tales of the creature known as the Flats Glider first surfaced, but they were largely rejected as they went uncaught. This was until the experience of Old Man Timothy, though his formal name was Timothy Fetterman. An aged fisherman who migrated to the colonies to explore the new offerings found there, he caught, lost, hunted, and then caught again perhaps the largest Flats Glider ever recorded. With his catch, and his consumption of its cooked carcass, the animal rapidly proved to be popular with local fishermen. However, by 300 AC, the creatures had largely vanished from the mud and tidal flats they dominated, hunted to near extinction as unknown to the newly arrived locals, the creatures only breed once every five years. However, even this cycle was disrupted, as this birthing cycle was determined by regional food fluctuations that the colonists greatly disrupted. As a result, most colonial governments in the area have since put out regulations against hunting the animal, though rural communities have been known to ignore these rules in favor of hunting and killing one as part of a major celebration. However, deaths from Flats Gliders are rapidly increasing, further making them a hazard to hunt, and it is likely that despite their initial population dent, they will survive to thrive in areas less easy to reach by the colonists.
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 in Colonial Culture. 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 the Colonials desperately stuff it with). 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.