Most people consider sharks as deadly, vicious, evil, and all around unpleasant things. These rumors mostly derive from any encounter made with the Ancythrian Shark. This saltwater fish lives a lonely life, eating anything that may keep its company out of the breeding season. As the name already implies, this shark can only be found in the Ancythrian inland sea. Lacking in any intelligence the creature is easily fooled but will usually get its target eventually. The Ancythrian Shark is the most feared hazard of the average Alvang sailor.
|Image description: An Ancythrian Shark approaching. If you're that close to this fish dangerous fish, it's definitely too late to already for you to flee... Picture drawn by Erelen.
Appearance. The Ancythrian Shark tends to have a rather monotonous body. Most people who've seen this fearsome beast agree that it has a dull grey upper half which abruptly turns white at its underside. It has small holes at the sides of it's head presumed to be ears of a sort and the eyes are sunk deep in the beast's head, perhaps as an evolved way to protect the orbs. The Ancythrian Shark doesn't range very much in size, around 4.5 peds in length. Although no official weight has been recorded it is generally agreed they weigh very little in relation to size, having no bones and oddly light muscles they seem to be around half the weight they should be. The beast comes equipped with a full set of razor sharp teeth used for... well, unpleasant things, each being constantly replaced as they are expected to be lost. The males' and females' body stuctures have no noticable differences.
Special Abilities. These sharks have an incredible sense of smell, they can track not only blood through water but sense sweat from passing boaters or the urine of a lost sea turtle all up to three strals away from its current location. After catching a scent the shark will reach an incredible 30 strals an hour trying to reach the creature.
Territory. Very very very fortunately for everyone, except the sharks themselves, the Ancythrian Shark is only located in the sea of the same name, with a few exceptions of assorted rich excentric men who specifically transport these creatures, at the expense of about a half dozen men per shark, into personal pools or moats just for the sake of having them. The Shark does very well in its sea and it is amazing how any other animal survives in the same region.
Habitat/Behaviour. This shark lives alone. If any animal, even another Ancythrian, enters its territory there will undoubtedly be a fight, usually ending with a luncheon for the shark. It is very "mean" as the humans of the port cities call it as it will give no mercy or show any fairness. In truth it is supposed that the creature is too stupid to be mean. It lives on a simple instinct of eating everything in sight with the exception of once every ten years. If one is being chased by one of these beasts for example you may throw a chicken leg, or ham sandwich, or a nice steak, off of the ship and away from the shark. The shark will stop instantly and rush off to this new source of food since it seems closer and in the water which is its own environment for the killing. That provided you see the shark in the first place. The Anythrian Shark does not skim slightly beneath the surface as many sharks do, it waits a good 7 or 8 peds beneath and then goes up at a near vertical path and bites into whatever it is attacking, sea turtle, whale, deck of a ship, it doesn't care too much.
The Ancythrian Shark is suspected to live quite a good deal of time. Ones in captivity lived 40 years after they were captured but nobody knows how long it lives from newborn to death. A century is the common estimate.
Diet. The diet of the Ancythrian Shark is preferably, to the shark, meat. It will eat anything and everything it sees, smells, or assumes is alive. That would be the reason it is occasionally sighted eating chunks of wood or perhaps an oddly shaped rock, possibly a reason for its replaceable teeth.
Mating. Once every ten years the shark goes into heat. At this time they stop being as territorial as before and search far and wide for another, of the opposite sex, in the same state. Since not all go into heat at the same time, although in the same season, this is a time when many sharks tend to die. When a shark mates the eggs are lain and the sharks go off their seperate ways for the rest of their lives. With all the other animals in the place about 3 eggs from every "batch" survive to adulthood. As a child they grow rapidly and hit adult size in 3 months. During the time they live as bottom feeding animals which usually get eaten within a few weeks.
Usages. The Ancythrian Shark has many uses. The most famous use is by, generally, the insane, misguided, or out in out weird, who enjoy having live Ancythrians inside their moats to deter unwelcomed guests. This business is of course very limited but happens enough to mention. Other uses is that the shark's Skin can be made into an extremely tough and versatile leather, sought after by swordsmiths and such to bind handles, or perhaps make very fine shoes. Once the Sharks were hunted as a possible way for food but their meat tasted extremely bad to most people, seeming to reek of blood after being roasted or even charred for hours. Capturing of these sharks is a very lucrative business, mostly due to the risk, any part of this Shark can easily make enough money for an average person to live off for half a year.
Information provided by Belgarion