Sky rays are a species of floatbeast that have a body shape similar to sea-faring rays. Rather than swim in the ocean, sky rays fly and float throughout the skies. They don't actually have any biological relation to ocean rays.
There are many different kinds of sky rays. They vary greatly in size and behavior. They are the most common type of Median class floatbeast and are found all over the world in both Luminosities.
A sky ray's wings (sometimes referred to as "sails") account for more than half of their body's surface area. These wings are wide, thin, and fleshy. Different sky rays have different shapes to their wings to optimize them for different behaviors. Most sky ray wings are designed to allow for long-term flights with little to no flapping.
The wings work in tandem with the float panels to keep the sky ray aloft. They are also necessary to allow the sky ray to control their flight.
Sky rays stay in the air with the help of special organs called "float panels". These panels contain a very high concentration of edylium and are located along the sky ray's back. The size and shape of the panels differ depending on the species. Some species have exposed float panels, others have hidden ones. In some species, their wings are their float panels.
The panels work sort of like floatstones do, by passively absorbing Aura until the edylium is charged enough that it begins to pull towards its source of Luminosity. Sky rays can minorly adjust the amount of Aura stored in their panels in order to control their altitude.
Sky rays with exposed panels glow when their panels are charged. In diurnal sky rays, this isn't always noticeable, but flocks of nocturnal rays can look mesmerizing as they twist through the sky in a mix of light and color.
Sky rays do not have celestial cores. Instead, their celestial nexus does all the Glow management for them. A sky ray's nexus is capable of storing far more Glow than in a ground-dwelling Glowcreature.
All of a sky ray's internal organs are neatly compacted in the animal's center. They have very small brains and--unsurprisingly--are not very intelligent. The specifics of how their digestive system works depends on the species and their diet, but they are known to poop quite a lot to avoid carrying any extra weight. On the larger species of ray, this can be... eventful.
Ecology and Habitats
Sky rays spend nearly their entire lives in the air. Different species enjoy a wide variety of climates and environments, though they tend to prefer places that have somewhere high up that they can perch on to rest. They aren't found in the Great Desert or in the extremely cold tundras of northern Sanoris.
Some species of sky rays are "homesteading", meaning that they prefer to stay in one specific area of territory. Other species are "nomadic", which means that they never pick a specific territory to settle down in and are always traveling. Conflicts between homesteading and nomadic flocks sometimes arise when they both pick the same roosting spot.
The biological cycle of a sky ray follows the cycle of its source of Luminosity. Sky rays aligned to either the suns are diurnal, and sky rays aligned to either of the moons are usually nocturnal.
Naturally, sky rays spend less time in the air the less frequently their source of Luminosity is around. This means that solar rays that live close to the equator have little changes to their schedule, while those that live in more temperate zones will be more active during the summer season.
When the rays' source of Luminosity sets, they will flock together and find a place to rest for the other half of the day. They like to roost in elevated places, such as trees or cliffsides. Homesteading rays will pick a specific location, or a handful of specific locations, to return to every day.
Sky rays prefer to sleep by hanging upside down with their wings wrapped around them. Some species could be mistaken for a flock of bats! Unlike bats, sky rays don't rest in caves, as that would cut them off from their source of Luminosity and render them unable to fly.
If there is no place for the ray to hang, then they will wrap themselves up on a flat (elevated) surface. They will only do this if they have to, though, as it makes it very difficult for them to take off from this position.
Uses, Products & Exploitation
Sky rays are very handy sources of edylium thanks to their very high concentation of the element, their frequency, and their ease of capture. The edylium from sky rays is used in both Auratech research and even some religious rituals.
Some species of sky rays are tasty enough to eat. These varieties are often "fished" from settlements on floating islands where the rays come to rest. Edible rays are usually about midrange in value. Certain species of sky ray fetch a higher price than others.
There are a few species of sky ray that are poisonous, so one must be careful that they don't fish the wrong ray out of the air.
Genetics & Reproduction
Exactly how sky rays reproduce is a mystery. It is assumed that they reproduce sexually, though the act has never been recorded. It is likely that they give live birth, since sky ray eggs have never been discovered, and they have no behaviors that would correlate with laying and protecting eggs.
Baby sky rays "appear" in large numbers in sky ray flocks seasonally. Which season depends on the species.
It is impossible to keep a sky ray as a pet since they need way too much open air in order to be happy. You can, however, build sky ray perches that they may use to rest during their inactive hours. It's not guaranteed that the rays will use a perch, though, especially if there are other natural perches in the area.
Dietary Needs & Habits
There are herbivorous, omnivorous, and carnivorous species of sky ray. Herbivorous sky rays are the most common and often the largest. They eat varieties of Glowflora that disperse their seeds high into the sky. They also eat nectar. Omnivorous sky rays mix in tiny insects into their primarily herbivorous diet, and strictly carnivorous rays usually stick to insects as well, with one terrifying exception.
Symbiotic and Parasitic Species
Many Glowflora(category link), especially floatflora, rely on sky rays and other floatbeasts to distribute their seeds and/or pollinate their flowers.
Anchor buds will hitch rides on sky rays with their sticky barbs. They use the sky rays to travel long distances before popping off and falling to the ground. Anchor buds are usually harmless, but a clump of too many might become cumbersome.
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