|Official Name||Rockback Whale|
|Common Nicknames||Gardenback Whale, Hëssasosah Báaellëss’najo|
The Rockback Whale is a unique species of whale endemic to the coasts of Sendrass and the western coast of Farah’deen. The creature was only known in Elven myths, as tales told of islands growing on the back of huge fish before they vanished into the waves once more. It was only after the Cataclysm that these myths were proven right, if not somewhat exaggerated, when Allar vessels first ventured out beyond their shores to seek a refuge from the Void converts. Known to the wider world ever since, these creatures have inspired beauty and mystery as they possess a unique skin on their backs that help clams, barnacles and sea moss to grow. With the Bone Horror Crisis unleashing a horde of undead bone sea monsters out from Hadaria into southern waters, the Rockback Whale’s future is uncertain.
The Rockback Whale is believed to have been first observed by the fledgling Elven Empire sometime before 1000 BC. Over the following centuries, sailors plying the southern coastline of Daen sometimes worried about the tales of false islands, a trick by massive carnivorous fish whose back appeared lush with vegetation only to sink down and swallow up any sailor who dared reach this false shore. These myths eventually faded into pure superstition of the high seas, and the animal was only formally re-discovered after 50 BC. As the Sendrassian Civil War on Sendras grew worse, Allar ships began to seek a new land to escape to. While these vessels did eventually reach Hadar, one scouting party found the Rockback Whale instead. A pod of the creatures reportedly swam alongside their boats before retreating deeper underwater.
Following this rediscovery by the Allar evacuation, Altalar slavers and nobles who heard of the animal from their Allar servants in the following years made the connection between the whale and the ancient myth. For a brief period of 20 years, the Whale was hunted by these parties, both for the glory and to see the monster of the past for themselves. Most were disappointed at the animal’s small size compared to its mythical proportions, and eventually, the hunts stopped as interest declined. Since then, the Rockback Whale has moved almost ceaselessly around the coastlines of Sendras on its migration pattern. Recently, an abnormally high number of Rockback Whale carcasses have been washing ashore in Hadaria, southern Daen, and in Serass. Wounds on the carcasses seem to indicate that sea monsters created by the Bone Horror Crisis are targeted the Whales. While these carcasses are just one part of a wider hunting phenomena, it is still troubling to those that still care about the creature, as it may point to the Whale's extinction sometime in the near future.
The Rockback Whale is an average sized whale measuring 50 feet in length and anywhere between 55 and 70 tons. They possess many traits like that of other whales, a large horizontal fluked tail, two large flippers located low on the body, a blowhole on the top of their head, a baleen filled mouth as well as small eyes (which are often colored dark green or brown) and no dorsal fin. Two features make the whale special; the first is an almost comically upturned mouth that curves right up to the top of the animal’s head before ending just below their small eyes. The other trait of the Rockback Whale is what gives it its name, that being the unique skin patches that grant the creature both a “rocky” back as well as nodes of aquatic material along its mouth and behind its eyes.
The skin in these locations has a unique bumpy texture due to microscopic pores which feed out oxygen. This unique feature helps to keep the small creatures and plant life that attach and grow here alive. As a result of this added, albeit minor, drain on their oxygen supply, the Rockback Whale is also the whale with the shortest dive time of 20 minutes before needing to return to the surface. These areas make each and every Rockback Whale unique as each patch is a different size and made up of different animals. The rest of the whale is colored dark gray which gives it a further rocky appearance.
Rockback Whales have a high level of individual diversity due to the formations behind their eyes, around their mouth, and along their back. They possess an equal gender ratio, and the two genders look equally the same.
Life Span and Development
The Rockback Whale life cycle is unknown due to no known location serving as their birthing waters. Many assumptions can be made however as the whale appears physically similar to many other types of whales. The live birth of a calf occurs before the parents nurture them over a period of several years into adulthood. Calves are not naturally born with the same textured skin as their parents and are assumed to develop it throughout their youth. Once grown, the Rockback Whale stays in the same pod as their parents, but when the mating season comes, male adolescents leave their home pod to join other pods with young females and stay there. The whale has a total lifespan of 60 years.
The Rockback Whale is a very docile creature by all accounts and easy to hunt. They care for their offspring dutifully and show affection for their spouses throughout their lifetime together. They do not see ships as a threat; some believe that a ship crusted with barnacles and other similar life forms on its hull confuse the Whale into believing the vessel is one of their own. When they are attacked, males are the first to move in defense of the pod and attempt to headbutt whatever predator is attacking them while females and calves retreat to a safe distance.
Territory and Groupings
The Rockback Whale live in pods for their entire life. These pods are made up of five to ten family groups living together. These groups have only been seen on the move, migrating the length of Sendras’ coast line presumably to spawning grounds. The Rockback Whale is not territorial with other fish or other members of its species, remaining docile unless threatened.
- Some wonder if the Cataclysm had an adverse affect on the creature, shrinking it down from its mythical size. Others feel that the mythical “Island Fish” is still real and this animal is but a smaller variation of something far larger that is still out there and a threat to sailors.
- Rockback Whales cannot grow seaweed or any substantial plant life. The majority of growths are small and crusted which helps the Whale when they headbutt against predators as these growths are often as hard as rock.
- Rockback Whales are known to help each other out should a growth grow too large and offset their balance. They grind their growths together to wear them down.