The waters of the Baltic sea are a massive melange of salty, brackish, and fresh water, and it is here that the Specworld's riparian cephalopods, the salmonites, are believed to have evolved.

    Salmonites are predatory, shelled cephalopods that have adapted to living lives divided between the river and the sea.  These creatures spawn in the open ocean, cementing their egg-sacs to rocks and then leaving, leaving the newly-hatched larvae to grow alone in the salt water.  Once the larval salmonites have grown fat off of oceanic plankton, and have begun to secrete a shell, they begin to migrate toward fresher water.  After a little more time, the sub-adults make some last additions to their shells (calcium carbonate, the shell-building material, being scarce in lakes and rivers) and swim upstream.  Here, the salmonites live out most of the rest of their lives, feeding upon insects, fish, and aquatic detritus.  During the mating season (usually in the earliest spring, soon after the ice has melted from the lakes and streams), the salmonites court, flashing dazzling patterns over their tentacular faces, and the males implant their sperm into the females.  At this point, some species immediately die, and allow their egg-laden shells to float back to sea, but most salmonites actively swim back down to the ocean to lay their eggs.  Most mate only once, but some salmonite species live several years as adults, making the harrowing journey to and from the sea each year.

    The trips upstream and downstream can be exceedingly treacherous, and salmonites commonly make overland portages---hawling themselves through the grass with their tentacles in order to avoid dangerous waterfalls.  Some species have been said to hurl themselves over violent water by means of jet propulsion, but such behavior has never been documented.

    Salmonites are by no means confined to Eurasia (they are common across the northern hemisphere, and are sometimes seen in Africa), but they are still most diverse in their home continent.

(Text by Daniel Bensen)

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