|Natural Habitat:||Tropical waters, favors the stream of water between Bahija and Bahr but moves to cooler water, Alesian Imperium, to spawn. 150-300m deep|
|Average Size:||6-10' long, females larger|
|Coloring:||Blue hues covering entire fish; dorsal side a darker grey with belly considerably lighter in color. Yellow fins|
|Distinguishing Features:||Unusually large and thick teeth with gaps between them. Lower 4 teeth much longer than the rest|
Both a prized trophy fish and source of many horrific injuries for sailors and fishermen alike. The Screamfish's bulk provides plenty of hearty meals to whoever catches one. Their meat has a different consistency than a normal fish: meaty, almost like pork, instead of flaky. Scaling it is difficult but they also have value, used by some as tips for arrows, by some. Their teeth are commonly kept as trophies.
All screamfish have more than an ample amount of muscle running down their body. They're built for endurance and power both and need that during their spawning runs. Their method of hunting is an active one. Nearly every moment of the day is spent in constant motion in an effort to fill their bellies and feed their high energy requirements.
Not only are they built to devour anything it may meet but is also well-equipped to. Massive teeth, 4-6" in length and conical in shape, jut from both the upper and lower jaws that almost resemble an alligator's. The bony plates that cover its head have moving sections that slide against each other. This allows the mouth to telescope out and not only gives the fish a few extra inches of reach but also creates suction. Bites that could have grazed a target quickly turn to mortal wounds or missing limbs. If a victim survives they can expect a rocky recovery ahead. The teeth leave deep puncture wounds and a greedy succession of bites mangle their prey as they try to swallow their mark whole. On occasion they attempt to devour something much larger than they're capable of and a side-to-side shaking creates ragged tears and missing chunks of flesh.
The bony plates that cover the screamfish's head taper off to large thick scales that work quite effectively as armor. Nearly a quarter inch thick they can take a considerable blow or scrape before showing signs of wear. Non-reflective by design with coloration suited to blending in, dark on the top, light on the bottom, it's hard to spot in darker waters. During the nighttime hours it heads near the surface, around 25-50m to feed on sleeping fish.
Even the spines on the 1st spine of its dorsal, pectoral anal fins are formidable. Nearly an inch around and solid they keep the screamfish from being devoured by predators of the deep. Larger specimens can have spines upwards of 7" in length and have even been fashioned into weapons or carved by bored sailors like whalebone. The tail fin has 2 spines.
A pair of large sensitive eyes are moved forward and slightly tilted up, helping the fish see in the dim light, and are aided by a second pair of rudimentary eyes. The simple eyes can tell when a shadow passes overhead, cast by fish or boat, while the complex eyes' keen sight can determine whether it's a likely meal or not.
Typically this fish wanders between the sunlight (1-200m) and twilight zone (201-1,000m). It prefers the range of 150-300m where the sunlight's starting to fade and is nearly gone. The heightened sense of sight and powerful body allow a quick ascent towards an unsuspecting target. During the nighttime hours it ventures closer to the surface, between 25-50m typically, to pick at easy meals.
The tropical but stormy waters of Bahija are a favored spot for these deeper water fish as they are largely unaffected by the turbulent waves that crop up from time to time. They can be spotted near Bahr and inhabit the entire region between the two but favor the southern islands. During the breeding season, between January and May every few years, they travel to the coasts of Alesia to mate and lay eggs along the coast.
Once mid-range blues brighten to a shocking electric blue and yellow markings appear under their eyes. These displays are worn more brightly on the male than drab female. There is no competing for mates but the colors help stimulate the females' release of eggs. The sticky coating on the eggs help them cling to rocks and keep from getting swept away from the rocks and into the ocean. Once their clutches are laid the adults head back north again.
Eggs are laid in the thousands and are a source of food for the local birds, crustaceans, fish and other denizens of the coast. Even the fry are targets both of the same threats they faced as eggs and also each other. The screamfish are cannibalistic until they grow large enough to pose a threat to other members of its own species. In the coming weeks they grow rapidly, feeding off of shrimp and small fish, and make their way towards the range they'll call home as adults. The trek takes nearly a year to complete and by then they're juveniles and often around 3 feet long.
During the earlier parts of their life they stay at slightly deeper depths (350-400m) than they will as full adults. This is for their own safety as it keeps them away from adult screamfish and off the menu. As the years go by they inch upwards until they're fully grown at 20 years of age.
When caught and drug in, on a line or in a net, the screamfish demonstrates how it got that name. They have a rudimentary voicebox under their gill flaps and can force air through the specialized organ to make a shrill scream. The noise is loud and terrifying, usually enough to startle a fisherman, and give it a chance to escape.
That ability to make terrible noise was not to scream at fishermen. That's just an unfortunate thing that occurs when the fish is harassed while out of the water. It has a far more innocuous use: marking its territory. The bellowing call has an extremely low frequency and is just barely able to be heard by humans despite carrying for nearly a mile. With an area staked out, and weaker fish getting picked off or forced into less fertile areas to face starvation, the population remains stable.