Anglermaid

The anglermaid is a mimic species that partially takes the appearance of a classic mermaid to lure sailors to their deaths. Despite the name, they are not related to merfolk.

Category: Aquatic

History

Anglermaids are known to live in deep sea areas near rocky outcroppings, waiting for ships to pass. When their is a ship within sight, they use their lure to bring sailors towards the rocks, or entice them to swim off their boats to their deaths. Anglermaids have been mistaken for classic mermaids as well as sirens, though they do not sing. They have enticed thousands of ships to crash into the rocks, and more sailors to drown in the deep sea, but in recent years have struggled to find another method to lure in humans.

Traits and Behavior

An anglermaid is a large carnivorous fish, averaging 30 feet in length at their full size. They can come in a wide variety of colors, and their bodies are large but streamlined, resembling a shark in shape. They have two main body segments: the main body of the fish, including a long wide tail and rows of sharp teeth resembling a moray eel, and the lure. The lure of the anglermaid is designed to resemble a mermaid form, where the tail fades into the lure line attaching it to the head of the anglermaid.

The lure develops as the anglermaid ages, starting as resembling a vaguely humanoid head, and growing more detailed over time. A fully grown anglermaid will have a lure with a full torso, arms (though they cannot move independently), and some even have tendrils resembling hair. Some anglermaids may attempt to put seaweed or other items on the lure as accessories, to better sell the illusion.

Anglermaids live in the deeper parts of the ocean, and only rise to the surface to lure sailors, seeking out areas they can easily corral ships into the rocks. They also try to lure people to follow the lure out to open water, in smaller rowboats or by swimming, then waiting for the human to become exhausted and sink into the water. Once underwater, some anglermaids will eat the drowned sailor, but the primary use is for the laying of their eggs. An anglermaid will lay their eggs (they are a hermaphroditic species and can all lay eggs) in the body once it has sufficiently decomposed. The body, weighed down by the eggs, will sink to the ocean floor and remain until the eggs hatch, at which point the baby anglermaids will eat the remaining flesh and emerge.

Anglermaids may also seek out shipwrecks on the ocean floor rather than luring ships themselves, so some wrecks can have several incubating schools of anglermaid eggs at once. The baby anglermaids are not territorial, but may cannibalize each other if food is limited. The adults will not linger once the eggs are laid, retreating to their own territories in the deeper parts of the ocean. They are fairly solitary and will only seek each other out for the purposes of breeding.

Anglermaids primarily eat other fish species, and use their speed and distracting lure to bring in food. Unlike anglerfish, the lure is used as a distraction to chase fish into their mouth, rather than using it as bait. Many lures are faintly bioluminescent, but this is only noticeable in the dark depths of the ocean.

Anglermaids can live up to 150 years in age, and may lay as many as 20 clutches of eggs in that time. A clutch of eggs will have between 70-100 eggs, though only half on average hatch. Once hatched the baby anglermaids will hunt small fish along the ocean floor until they are 7-10 years old, at which point they are fully mature and capable of laying their own eggs. They are often hunted by octopus while young, but have few predators when they age. They are more likely to be killed by human ships as they seek to drown sailors, either hurt by the ship itself or injured by fishing activities. A small number have been caught and eaten by fisherman, and the meat is reported to be similar to shark. The lure portion of the body is inedible, as it primarily consists of cartilage.

Weaknesses

Anglermaids primarily hunt humans by luring them out into open water and waiting for them to be exhausted, or tempting entire ships to run into unseen rocks and cliffs under the water. The best way to avoid them is to be vigilant when on the water and not following any mermaid-esque creatures. It is helpful to remember that true mermaids look less humanoid than the lure does, and they will rarely seek out humans (unless they also are aiming to kill them). Another good reminder is that the lure cannot move its fake limbs separately, and therefore will only swim back and forth in the air without gesturing or responding to any attempts to communicate.

Anglermaids will not actively hurt a human unless they are starving and have no better food sources; they want the body as intact as possible, and therefore will not attack. Getting back on dry land, or at least onto a boat, should provide enough safety, as the anglermaid seeks out an easier target.

Despite their unusual appearance, they are no harder to catch or kill than the average shark, and can easily be hurt or killed with standard fishing gear.

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