Haiu: Annual Spore Bloom
The annual Haiu has hit Felth this month, drenching the skies in weeping hues of spores too thick to breathe. Haiu is celebrated as swathes of excitable Residents flock outdoors to catch and drink the spore tainted rains, a free hallucinogenic 'Haiu High'. Large meshed fabric archeries protect busy streets and livestock fields while air-purifiers work overtime to keep indoor areas 'safe mask free breathing zones' and fauna throughout exhibit all sorts of unusual behaviors as a result of spore highs and poisoning. Be careful while you're tripping out there folks!
The main body of the scumraker resembles a oblong dome formed from a thick, greenish jelly protected by a very thick, clear, layer of hard chitin. A trio of small black eyes protrude on trio of fused stalks upwards into this jelly, allowing the creature to see either above or below it depending on it’s position. Beneath its buoyant jelly mantle are eight legs chitnous legs protrude from a solid body,, four of which end in small graspers and four of which end in swollen paddle like structures that also glow with the warm green that the scumraker’s mantle does. All eight arms are heavily bristled, and from the back of the animal protrudes a long, draping tail that provides simple locomotion. The entire creature is about a foot long on average, though sizes can vary on location and species.
Scumrakers are a very widespread species of shrimp-like creature that forms the backbone of many surface dwelling oceanic animals. While they are fairly large, the creatures themselves have thin, simple shells and are fairly easy to prey upon, having little to no defense beyond a few nematocysts that grow along the underside of the tail. Luckily with their rapid breeding habits, they can still be found far and wide, within nearly any oceanic zone that has microorganisms to consume and sunlight to bask in. The two specific oceanic zones the scumraker lives within also somewhat depends on the location. Almost all species live within the epipelagic zone, where they have access to algae and phytoplankton, while a fairly large number also live within various intertidal zones, so long as some form of sunlight can reach them.
Life Cycle & Diet:
The lifecycle of the scumraker is fairly standard for a shrimp or crustacean, producing small, gelatinous eggs a meager few mm in diameter. These eggs are fertilized between male and female before being incubated in one of two ways. During swarming seasons, they will ejected en masse into the surface waters, where they will be warmed by the sun before hatching over a short period of 3 days. Otherwise, the female will move eggs from her ovipositor into her mantle, where they will be embedded in the soft jelly tissue until eventually hatching into small, tadpole like young over the course of 5 to 7 days.
Scumrakers have two main forms, depending entirely on how much algae and phytoplankton currently inhabit the waters within which they inhabit. These two forms can be effectively divided into two seasonal types: swarming, and non-swarming. Non-swarming scumrakers are the “standard” form, being the greenish tinged soft shelled shrimp seen drifting lazily under the surface of the sea. These large crustaceans swim on their backs, cultivating large balls of a kind of symbiotic algae from which they will feed CO2 from their four rear gill-tipped feet as well as waste matter packed onto the ball under a layer of mucus.
In turn, the scumraker will absorb oxygen from the ball, as well as consume small pieces of it to sustain itself. These lazily floating creatures will regularly orientate themselves towards, pointing their compound eyes towards whichever direction is darkest, ensuring that their small algae ball gets as much light as possible. Said algae balls can be produced by nearly any species in all but the most hostile environments, and it is thought that the green shade of their jelly mantle is colored so due to small alage cysts being cultivated within it from birth, leading to the theory that the two species of flora and fauna are almost completely inseparable. This can even go as far as some species of scumraker burying their eggs in their carried algae ball, abandoning the floating sphere before they themselves expire.
Swarming behavior manifests when algae blooms occur, and is what gives scumrakers their name. When certain chemicals are detected in the water, occuring during heavy algae growth, the scumrakers will abandon their algae pearls and begin consuming algae enmasse, effectively raking through the waters leaving trails of clear sea water behind them. In this state, they digest all plant matter save the green chloroplasts, which are pumped into specialized pseudo cells that grow within their gill pods, all four swelling up to three times their original size. While the chloroplasts do inevitably die, they allow the swarming scumrakers to behave like respirating flora, absorbing CO2 from the algae-rich water and replacing it with Oxygen.
What this means is that a shoal of scumrakers can revitalize heavily oxygen-depleted waters, so long as the algae that caused the depletion is still around. This has led to scumrakers being the backbone of Felth’s oceanic ecosystem, helping to combat algae blooms caused by spore season and other ecological run off. The explosion of scumraker larva also ensures that there is plenty of food in the waters after all the algae has been consumed, bringing in hungry fish to revitalize the zone.
Other than being the miracle ecosystem fixers that they are, scumrakers also make up a good portion of the diet of coastal communities, with their jelly mantles being high in vegetable nutrients and sugars, while the core body is very high in protein. The algae balls they carry are also great sources of nutrition, properly prepared. Heavy fishing has caused some recent issue though, with certain environmental groups bringing up concerns as heavy spore bearing winds coat the waters in thick layers of algae that can remain for several months in locations where scumrakers have been depleted.
Other than as a food source, the scumraker and it’s carried algae ball has become a religious icon for a few societies, a relationship between Felth’s sun and it’s life in miniature form, with a giant scumraker carrying the sun across the sky in it’s lazy, drifting arc.
Jellyfish / Horseshoe crab.
Carries a symbiotic ball of algae.
Will go through a “locust” phase during algae blooms to reset the ecosystem before dying off enmasse.
Has some habits and symbolism similar to dung beetles.
Post by possmonaut on Feb 27, 2019 10:07:17 GMT 9.5
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I WANT TO THANK MYSELF FOR BEING SO CUTE, AND MY CATS FOR BEING SO ADORABLE. GOOD JOB US.