Reefclaws are ferocious aquatic predators that originated in the waters off Varisia, but have since spread throughout the coasts and rivers of the Inner Sea region. They look like a cross between a spiny crustacean and an eel, and are generally between three to four feet in length.
Reefclaws can be found in both coastal waters and in rivers. They feed on a variety of creatures, including fish, crustaceans, dolphins, and land-dwelling creatures when these come close enough to the water to be ambushed.
Male reefclaws are strictly solitary, although females sometimes assemble into groups known as harems when the become ready to mate. When a harem encounters a reproductive male, the females eviscerate their mate and swim through the resulting cloud of blood and viscera, after which they consume the male's body. This process is repeated four or five times over a month, after which the now-impregnated females part ways from one another. Female reefclaws gestate for three months and lay tens of thousands of eggs at once. Out of these clutches, less than one per cent of the larvae reach adulthood.
Reefclaws are intelligent enough to understand the languages spoken most often in their surroundings, and listen to waterside conversations to learn where to best wait to ambush prey or for simple entertainment.
Reefclaws were originally created through fleshwarping by Runelord Alaznist in -5784 AR to protect the rivers and other bodies of water in her domain. After the fall of Thassilon, reefclaws escaped into the wild and thrived, spreading across Avistan's western coast, south into the Inner Sea, and into every river system emptying into these waters.
Today, reefclaws can be found along Avistan's southern and western coasts, and in most large rivers connected to these areas; large populations exist along the Lost Coast of Varisia. A particularly notable congregation of reefclaws, known as the the Lasting Churn, exists near the mouth of Conqueror's Bay; this is the largest reefclaw harem ever recorded, and contains hundreds of individual creatures. Although reefclaws leave and enter the Churn, its overall numbers have remained stable throughout the 43 years since it was discovered.
Reefclaws' meat is considered a delicacy in numerous coastal areas, including the cities of Korvosa and Absalom. The practice of consuming reefclaw meat is sometimes frowned upon due to the reefclaws' relative intelligence, but the practice of catching and eating these creatures continues nonetheless. Only the meat of the claws is typically consumed, as the rest of the body is not considered to be palatable by most. In Varisia, reefclaw is served with butter for dipping. Consumers of reefclaw meat describe its flavor as dependent on the temperature of the water in which the creature lived: cold-water reeflcaws are described as tasting sweet, while warm-water reefclaws as possessing a tangy flavor.
Reefclaws are fished using a large piece of meat on a hook as bait. The meat is allowed to float just above the sea floor until a reefclaw attacks it, at which point the rope or chain is pulled up and the creatures' claws—which remain firmly fixed to their target even after death—are cut off, dropping the crippled reefclaw back into the sea.
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