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Kherkalim

Short introduction


Kherkalim (pl.: kherkalimguu) are a species of sea otters living along the southern shores of Mentzuul. They are quite large and are only able to sate the voracious appetites a larger body develops thanks to the tremendously fertile and rich ecosystem the sea offers in this area. Furthermore kherkalim also possess a certain kind of intelligence, making them a species that can be kept as a pet or that can be bonded with.

Appearance, distribution and ecology


Kherkalim are relatively big, reaching lengths of around five feet and weighing 40-45 kilograms. They also have a short, but muscular tail aiding them in diving and steering. They are covered in a thick, fur, which is kept oily and greasy by special glands excreting tallow and grease. Their fur is a brownish grey to keep them difficult to spot in the water as well as on land. They have two specialised scent glands positioned behind their ears, which they can use during mating season to rub their body with pheromones to show whether they are ready for mating or not. The scent given off by these glands is very distinctive and the secretions are sometimes harvested for special purposes.


Populations of kherkalim are mostly found along the southern shores of Mentzuul. In the east they venture a bit further north, all the way to the northern most island of the Aral Gertii. In the West of Mentzuul on the other hand, they can only live up to where the Baruun Dalai opens to the ocean, as this bay is characterized by a very continental and harsh climate caused by its only narrow opening to the ocean in the West.


Kherkalim are predators, making use of all the food sources they come across. Their diet consists mostly of marine animals: clams, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, crabs and also fish, if they can catch them. Same is true for some birds in the area, that can end up on the menu of the kherkalim while themselves being on the hunt for the rich marine life of the area. Especially the Orange-beaked puffin often falls prey to Kherkalim. Other birds are either more vigilant of the Kherkalim being around, floating on the water or they are even better adapted to hunting in the water, like Dalokhki Tsakh.


Kherkalim are curious and intelligent, almost like wolves, so some of them actively seek company of beings with the Gift of Reason. This kind of behaviour and disposition probably stems from their intra-species social life. Kherkalim live in loose groups of two to five families. Each family consists of a pair and their offspring. Young Kherkalim eventually mate with a partner from the befriended family. The families help each other with different tasks, like watching out for predators or taking care of the young, while parents have to go hunting. Sometimes they even hunt not only for themselves, but also for members of their own family or the group of families. When a group gets too big, one or two pairs split off, either to found a new family group or to get integrated in an existing one that is not yet too big.


Behaviour, cultural role and use


As said, Kherkalim live in highly social family groups. They look out for each other and help each other with finding food or taking care of the young. To keep their social structure working, they developed a complex system of communication, involving chirps, clicks and short shouts as well as tailslaps against the water surface to produce splashing sounds.

Their intelligence has made them a species that is kept as a hunting animal, especially to aid in fishing. Kherkalim are trained to hunt for crabs, larger crayfish and lobsters and some individuals can even be trained to differentiate between these prey items to catch a certain type of prey.

Kherkalim can also be bonded with, which is not surprising considering their intelligence. There are no peoples living around the southern shores that would profit much from bonding with Kherkalim though, which makes it an animal bonded with only rarely.

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