Shallow ocean Stoneshark
Sharp teeth, hard head.
They've got reaaal thick armor on their heads, and've been known to take down a ship or two just by mistakenly running into it... but for the most part, they don't target humans. For the most part.These massive sharks can reach sizes of anywhere between 4.5 to 5.5m in length. They're covered in thick gray-green skin, atop a layer of lean muscle. The defining feature of them however is the thick, dark gray plating featured on their head, underbelly, and lower back. This material is chitinous, rough, and very tough -- these stone-like qualities are what gave the sharks their name. Stonesharks are very lean -- because the sharks live in warm, shallow oceans, they do not need any fat for warmth. They instead trade the protective layers for more muscle, which in turn makes them incredibly fast for their size. A Stoney will keep pace with any sailboat, and even the newest and most efficient steamships may struggle to pull away from the hard headed predators.
Their incredible speed allows them to hunt nearly anything in the ocean with ease. However, the sharks are not the most intelligent of beasts, and they will quite often mistake inanimate objects for food. Nearly every experienced sailor has a story they've told once or twice of Stonesharks mistakenly striking boats, and smashing holes into hulls with the thick plating atop the sharks heads.
Uhhh.. is that comin straight for us?
...and then he said, he goes "I told the cap'n there was a buncha them, and they looked like they were huntin! But cap'n didn't listen, and that was that." ...turns out his idiot captain steered their ship right into a pod o' Stoneys, and they wound up sinkin right then and there. Twelve men died, so they say.
Anatomy of a StonesharkA Stoneshark does not begin growing their thick plating until 3-5 years after birth. The plating is born of calluses, earned through the first few rough years of a sharks life. Once the calluses form, a sharks body will focus most of the calcium gained from eating the bones of their prey to these spots. The armor will continue to thicken and harden over the course of the sharks life, as they use their thick heads for bludgeoning their prey to death. The other defining feature of the sharks is the rule of 3's found upon them -- each shark has 3 dorsal fins, 3 pectoral fins on either side, 3 hearts, and 3 stomachs. The 3 stomachs help a Stoneshark's body distribute nutrients to where they need to go, with the final stomach being the one to dissolve bones, sending nutrients to their armor plating. The sets of 3 fins all help the shark to swim as fast as it can -- and the 3 hearts ensure proper blood flow to support that speed.
HabitsStonesharks prefer to hunt in groups, known as pods. The sharks will remain in these pods for most of their life, living and hunting together. They also pair for life, and most pods will have anywhere between 3 to 6 pairings within them, with a few singles. Each pod will have one dominant pairing that leads each hunt.
Hunting groundsStonesharks are found in shallow oceans surrounding Eriall and Russin, but have been known to swim as far south as the eastern shores of Vir Adanea. They're also quite commonly found in the wake left by Sharenskus, as the mud stirred up conceals the sharks and allows for easy hunting.
Sport FishingStoneshark meat is tough, and incredibly oily. When raw it has an incredible stench to it, that only worsens when cooked -- very few, if any, will eat Stoneshark meat. However, Stoneshark fishing still occurs at high enough rates to endanger the shark's population in certain areas. The sharks put up incredible fights, and thus have become popular with sport Anglers. Some even kill their catch, harvesting the armor plating for use on their boats, as construction material, or just neat trophies.
A brief Training ExperimentApproximately 40 years ago, Falaradunian government experimented with a captured pod of Stonesharks. Using bright white painted morsels of food placed near the surface of the water, they trained the sharks to hunt specific targets, in the hopes they could use them to destroy enemy ships. Unfortunately the sharks were released into the wild before the Government realized most of their ships looked white from below -- it took 8 years to kill or recapture the pod, and 12 ships were lost.
There be a story my maw used to tell me, bless her soul, bout the biggest Stonehead she ever did see. Wasn't no normal one, no, this one was huge, twisted, and hungry... hungry for humans.