On a good day or night, a lucky visitor to the Candle Archipelagos might spot a shimmer of color breach the surface of the water then disappear. Paddle out to one of the region's lagoons in a small boat and you might get a closer look at one of the islands' seasonal visitors, the opal turtle. So-named for the beautiful iridescent patterns inlaid within their keratinous shells, unlike real opal, the color in these turtles' shells comes from the glowing jellyfish they love to eat. This gives the patterns in the shell a faint luminescence, which can be seen against the dark of the rest of the shell when the turtles come up for air. Once hunted for their beautiful shells, opal turtles are now protected in the Candle Archipelagos and migrate in vast numbers every summer to mate and lay their eggs on the beach.
This egg looks like a piece of rock with veins of opal.
The life of a young turtle is treacherous and only one or two in every clutch will ever reach adulthood. The turtles hatch en masse in the dead of night during the productive summer, when luminescent organisms washed up on the beach will mask their glowing shells to some small degree. Even so the hatchlings often fall prey to hungry birds, crabs, and land animals that rely on the turtles as a seasonal food. Those that make it to the water still have to contend with hungry fish and other marine creatures. If they are especially lucky, once they reach a few years in age, the turtles will have grown to a size that few predators can handle. The Qaitu, and more recently magi, occasionally take in the late-hatching eggs of opal turtle nests to care for by hand, ensuring that at least a few turtles survive to found the next generation.
Although the sea is full of many beautiful creatures, few things are as breathtakingly beautiful as an opal turtle swimming through a reef. Unlike land turtles, opal turtles and other marine species are built for speed, sometimes reaching up to thirty knots. They have well-formed flippers in place of webbed feet, the front providing propulsion while the rear flippers steer the turtle. Their shells are protective, but less so than in river and land species, for the opal turtle cannot pull its head or flippers in for protection. They have a specialized beak that changes in shape throughout their lives to accommodate a changing diet. While young opal turtles are primarily carnivorous, adults feed on a mix of plant and animal matter, grazing large fields of Candle Archipelagos sea grass. However no turtle, no matter their size, will ever pass up the chance at a tasty jellyfish.
Obtained from: Donation, Retired
Renaming cost: 20000 gold
Release date: September 15th 2016
September 2016 Midmonth Donation Pet.
Sprite art: Jrap17 | Description: PKGriffin