THE KUK'ARG (RED SALMON)

APPEARANCE - SPECIAL ABILITIES - TERRITORY
HABITAT/BEHAVIOUR - DIET - MATING - USAGES - MYTH/LORE

The Kuk'arg is a migratory fish that lives in the oceans of Northern Sarvonia. It migrates up rivers in the late summer to spawn and returns to the sea before the rivers freeze. Young Salmon live in the river for one year then migrate to the ocean. The average size of a migrating fish is 2- 3 fores and an average weight of 25-30 od. Large specimens can reach 1 1/3 ped, or 4 fores with weights over 40 od.

The Kuk'arg Salmon
View picture in full size Image description. The Kuk'arg Salmon captured by the artist during a jumping out of the ocean water. Picture drawn by Bard Judith.

Appearance. An attractive fish, the Kuk'arg is streamlined with a light golden back and silvery sides. The fish is covered in dark black spots and light blue spots on the back and tail. Spots fade in number and are not present on the stomach. The blue spots are surrounded by white halos. During migration the males develop a deeper red colouration on the stomach as well as a hooked curve in their lower jaws. Female colouration becomes more vivid but they do not develop the red stomachs nor hooked jaw. The fish's head is about ¼ of the body length. These fish grow to 1 ped on average with a maximum circumference of about 1 1/3 fore at the thickest point and a weight of 25 – 30 od. The scales are very fine and smooth. The young look like adults in shape but have large prominent oval bars, or parr marks, along their sides. These parr marks fade after one year. Return to the top

Special Abilities. This strong fish is able to jump water falls as high as 3 ped. The strength of the fish when angling is legendary. A Kuk'arg can leap very high and they are known to frequently break lines. They have a lot of stamina and it takes some time for a fisherman to wear out a Kuk'arg. The red meat is very good to eat. Return to the top

Territory. The Kuk'arg lives in the Sea of Tears as well as the Aelyvian Sea. In the Sea of Tears it is common from the Peninsula of Aden to as far south as the Tandala river. In the Aelyvian Sea it is common in rivers from Hovel-Frond to as far south as the Vandrina river. It is also found, landlocked, in Whisper Lake and Ephirn's Lake. However, it only grows to half its sea size in lakes. It has also been found off the waters of the Wicker Islands and other islands within its range.
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Habitat/Behaviour. In the river young Kuk'arg hide under logs, undercut banks and riffles to avoid predation. . Kuk'arg move up their birth river during the early fall beginning migration shortly after a heavy rain washes river odours into the sea and rekindles the Salmons' interest in their nascent homes. Kuk'arg always migrate to their birth location. This we know from an albino fish that the Injerín elves noticed returned to the same location on the upper Luquador each fall. They can be found spawning and migrating in very shallow rivers and creeks where they attract and are accessible to a variety of predators including Argrothin bears, wolverines, mathmoors and eagles, not to mention humans.
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Diet. While young, the Salmon consume a variety of aquatic insects and small minnows such as the common mithralfish. After they migrate to the sea they roam in large schools up to a league from land and feed voraciously on the smaller fish and crustaceans available.
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Mating. When the fish arrive at their chosen location, the female Kuk'arg creates a depression in the stream gravel with her tail, where she then deposit´s thousands of eggs. The male accompanying the female will fertilize the eggs moments after they are deposited. Males are very aggressive and will chase out smaller males near the female before spawning as well as other fish that are around. After spawning, males will zealously guard the nest area for several weeks before returning to sea. Females return to sea a few days after spawning.
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Usages. The meat of the Kuk'arg is bright red and very delicious. It is a meat staple of many tribes of Northern Savornia. Many tribes spend time harvesting in the fall and store the fish over winter. Some Orc tribes dry the Kuk'arg on wooden poles. The Kuglimz and Injerín Elves smoke their Kuk'arg and some other tribes use salt. The dried fish can be stored for months and eaten dried or mixed with water and tuberroots to make a chowder or stew. In its dry form, Kuk'arg is very light and portable. The skin can be treated and used like leather for ornamental or other light applications. The annual migration is well known to both races and animals. Net fishing on rivers and in the sea is popular. Tribes often use spears below water falls where Kuk'arg congregate to jump. Hunters use the migration of Kuk'arg to locate bears, wolverine and other animals to hunt.
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Myth/Lore. Knowledgeable tribes who rely on the Kuk'arg are thankful and protective of their rivers and many celebrate the harvest at festivals, such as the Kuglimz Taug’alth’ho ("Plant and Animal Festival"). Many are also careful not to over-exploit the resource and many tribes guard and protect the best spawning grounds. Most notable of these are the Injerín elves who guard the spawning grounds of the upper Luquador River. The Kuk'arg is considered to be a symbol of wisdom, and tales are told among the Kuglimz of how in the olden times they were the size of humans, and could speak. They say that men and fish would swim together, talking and learning of each other's ways, and that the Kuk'arg taught the Kuglimz many things that are now lost. When a Kuk'arg was ready to die, it would tell one of its human friends, offering its body that the humans might profit from its flesh. The man was always rewarded with the head, which he would eat in the hope of gaining his friend's wisdom and strength.

A chieftain of the Lyr'Teimor Kuglimz held this legend in such reverence that in an attempt to become a more cunning leader he required his family and servitors to spend the day long catching Kuk'arg and cooking them, then at dinner serving him a dish made only from the fish heads. The tale says that (since food was never wasted) the tribe soon grew weary not only of fishing but of eating fish for every meal, turned on their master, and flung him into the river with the words, "Since you love the Kuk'arg so, live with them too!" (We must note that it is a catchier phrase in the original tongue...)

To this day, the 'cheeks' of the salmon (the only truly edible part of its head) are considered to bestow sharpness of thought upon the one who consumes them.
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