|Official Name||Starv Seal|
|Common Nicknames||Sleek Seal, Kreb-Kruncher|
|Habitat||The North Belt and Northern Expanse|
The Starv Seal is a sleek and common seal found throughout the northern regions of Aloria. It long avoided civilization, and it was only near 100 AC that it was discerned to be a separate species and not just young Blubber Seals. The animal is notable for its unique teeth that help it feast on krill, as well as for its competitive nature, performing diving contests to retrieve notable animals or other prizes from the depths to prove themselves. As whaling increases, their competitor for food being the various species of northern whales, are unlikely to reassert themselves thus allowing the Starv Seal to continue to grow in population.
The Starv Seal has a relatively calm and inconsequential history in Aloria. Before the Cataclysm, they were noted to live in the waters off the far northern coastline of Daen and around the nearby Drovv-controlled lands. Unlike their cousin the Blubber Seal, they have long avoided civilization and were an elusive species in the aftermath of the Cataclysm. It took until nearly 100 AC for specimens of the animal to be sighted and confirmed as a separate species as many had been confusing them with young or thinner Blubber Seals up until this time. Today, the Starv Seal remains unremarkable but abundant due to the rise of whaling in the northern states of Aloria, resulting in the krill-diet-centered seal slowly seeing their population grow with the slow decrease in competition over the past two centuries. The animal has also enjoyed relative freedom from hunters as their resting places, ice floes and sheets, are treacherous to Humans, and their bodies do not offer the same kind of monetary or material benefits as other aquatic animals. However, some hunters have grown adept at hunting this species of seal. Nevertheless, until these techniques catch on or whaling decreases, the animal looks to continue on its upward curve.
The Starv Seal is an extremely sleek seal when compared to its cousins, the Imperial Seal and the Blubber Seal, as well as being significantly smaller. They can grow anywhere between six to seven feet long, with weights drastically varying depending on the season but range from 400 to 600 pounds. The head is long, with a pointed snout, long white whiskers, a wide mouth, two large black eyes and a pair of small ear holes near the back of the skull. Inside of their mouths is their one unique feature: That being teeth that sieve krill into the mouth but trap them inside to then be swallowed alive. These teeth have indentations in them that allow for this, granting the mammal an interesting appearance. The rest of their bodies are sleek, built for speed with a smooth coat of fur and two sets of powerful flippers, one set of foreflippers and the other set forming the “tail.” The color of this fur varies depending on the time of year as well as age.
Once they have matured, Starv Seals have a constantly changing coat of fur based around the seasons. In the wintertime, they have colors ranging from dark brown to dark grey, with darker patches around their flippers and a lighter colored underbelly. However, in the spring and early summertime their fur molts and turns them uniformly light blonde or beige across their whole body. The fur then slowly darkens back into the winter color over the course of late summer and autumn. Their population is balanced, neither gender favored and many of both genders surviving into adulthood.
Life Span and Development
Starv Seals are born as pups in single or dual births, while triplets are possible but a great rarity. During this time, the females will give birth alone, but as they recover and lactate for their children, a male or two will guard the area nearby to protect the pups. The pups are small, with a light brown color to their fur which fades at their first molting. This molting begins shortly before or after they have been weaned off their mother, which occurs after three weeks. At this point, the males withdraw, and the female begins to teach her young. During this time, the larger mating group formed during this period breaks apart, but the female is likely to travel with several adults, male or female, parent or not, as she teaches her children. They rapidly mature, physically and mentally, and within six months have reached adult physical size. At this stage, they often leave their mother for larger groups of young Starv Seals that form which last a few months to a year. In these groups they reach the final stages of maturation, and by the age of one, they can mate the next mating season, which is usually in the spring. When that time comes, males increase their body weight to fight for the best mate underwater. These fights involving nipping, chasing and acts of dominance by different males against each other that never end in killing but some serious bites and scars can be found on males from past fights. Once a male is uncontested in his desire to mate with the female he has chosen, he then mates with her also underwater. After this time he leaves, as does the female who begins to slowly bulk herself up. When the time comes to give birth, she will go onto the ice alone and not eat for three weeks, surviving on the energy stores in her body. Her mate and other males then guard these stranded and vulnerable females in pairs or groups of three, even if the pups are not his. The Starv Seal can live for up to twenty years.
The Starv Seal is a highly social animal, rarely ever alone unless it is traveling to a larger group somewhere else. When with other members of their species, they show their caring nature, with males protecting vulnerable mothers and their young pups. They also participate in what is perceived as“cleaning” each other, nuzzling and lightly licking the faces of other Starv Seals when they lounge around on the ice during idle times of the day. However, they are competitive, as exampled in the mating season, but this competitiveness can also occur outside of it. Some have observed what seemed to be diving contests among the younger members of the species, particularly viewable around Nordskag as both genders try to dive down, grab and return with soon-to-be-a-meal Nordskag Krebs. The species also hunts collectively in their group, and are carnivorous. Their hunts are primarily directed at krill, which their teeth and mouths are specially adapted to consume, but they also go after other crustaceans such as the Nordskag Kreb, the occasional invertebrate or fish. They hunt simply in all accounts, their swift bodies allowing them to slip in and out of swarms and in the case of krill, fill their specially designed mouths with as much as they can.
When civilization or sentient races encounter the animal, it is skittish and avoids them if possible. Hunters are sometimes surprised at the speed adult Starv Seals can reach when trying to escape from them, flopping rapidly into the nearest ice hole or over the edge of the ice sheet they were laying on. The only species they don’t objectively react negatively to is the Maiar, though such encounters are infrequent. The Starv Seal is also an intelligent animal, but the exact degree is somewhat debated. At the high end, some Velheim fishermen claim the aquatic mammal triggers their undersea traps prematurely or purposefully damages them so that another competitor in the food space is eliminated. However, others note this could be a result of intense curiosity, and as the traps aren’t designed for such large creatures or hard prods, the destruction is a side effect.
Territory and Groupings
The Starv Seal is a social animal with several types of groupings. When it is young, it helps to form a “class” of fellow young Starv Seals. These seals are often six months old when they join up but also merge with other classes already in existence. These classes can number as high as 1000 individuals. Then, over time these classes break up. The mating season often sees the older members leave in small groups of their own while new, younger seals arrive to fill in these gaps. Adult groups are small, with normally five to ten adults,and with whatever number of pups that are present having an equal gender split among the parents. Routinely for the next two decades or however long they live, the adult groups will eventually join up with others for a “reunion” each mating season (though reunion is a misnomer as it is unlikely anyone aside from the adult’s own group is from their previous one). These large adult “classes” are never as big as young ones, only numbering as high as 300 members.
- A grizzly sight was recently discovered in northern Cain. A class of Starv Seals seem to have fled inland at some point, even going up some difficult rocky terrain. Several dozen corpses were found on a plateau, where the animal starved to death but was then mummified in the dry, cold air of the regional climate. There is no knowledge as to how or why the animal fled so far from the sea.
- Starv Seals were named for their thinner bodies compared to the Blubber Seal, as the Velheim long called them “starvin’ seals.”
- Starv Seal cubs are often called “Brownies” in the form of dark, ironic humor, in that the “starvin’ seals” produce “brownies” which Velheim hunters then club and eat.