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In the world that I'm building, instead of humans being the primary species I want to make it a species that lives in oceans. While I may use mermaids in the story, I don't want the primary species to be mermaids. Does anyone have ideas for other fantasy races that could live in the water? I either need one that I can research about already or ideas to make my own race.

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    $\begingroup$ You could have people from Innsmuth colonizing your world. $\endgroup$
    – beppe9000
    Jul 16, 2016 at 22:40
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site, Delaney. Please note that the Worldbuilding Stack Exchange is dedicated to specific questions and answers and is not intended or designed as an idea-generation site, especially for questions as simple to answer as this one. If you had an interest in developing or adapting a single species, we would be happy to help. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Jul 17, 2016 at 21:17

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There's a lot of choices here;

  1. A sapient version of the Bake Kujira. A Japanese skeletal whale monster
  2. The Ceffyl Dŵr. A shapeshifting Welse counterpart to the Selkie
  3. The Selkie. Seal-like Creature that shed their skin on land to become fair maidens
  4. The Kelpie. A Scottish counterpart to the Selkie that often appears as a horse or man.
  5. The Siren. Similar to the mermaid but usually more elemental
  6. A Sapient Abaia . A giant magical eel
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Just based on reality here and not on 'known' fantasy races.

If you looking for intelligence, dolphins, whales and other 'cetaceans' could be a starting point.

If you looking for tool use, seals and otters are you best choice. Octopus and squid are also good choices (the kraken).

Star fish are an option because of their suckers but I have trouble imagining an angry horde of starfish-based creatures fighting each other.

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    $\begingroup$ Octopuses have suckers, too. And, I'm pretty sure you would die if it decided to wrap around your face. Poison glands could be helpful, too, so that you don't squirm for too long and carry it away from water. $\endgroup$ Jul 17, 2016 at 6:11
  • $\begingroup$ Haha. Yes Octopus have suckers but they are also incredibly dextorious..they can wrap their tentacles across your face. But starfish. While they could hurt you and carry you off, don't have the manipulation of tools that I was talking about. They would have to work in unison with other starfish to carry off big prey somewhat like like ants and hive minds... $\endgroup$ Jul 17, 2016 at 11:31
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The Vodyanoy from Slavic mythology (and as used e.g. by China Miéville in his books, Perdido Street Station and Iron Council) seem to fit the bill.

Namely, they are sentient creatures that live (and breathe) underwater, with some sort of power over the water itself. They exhibit frog- and fish-like feature (gills, membranes, scales, fish tail), as well as humanoid ones.

In Miéville's take on that Russian mythology, the Vodyanoi need water to survive, and are intelligent creatures that master the "watercraeft," i.e. the ability to shape and control water.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome Clement. Cold you elaborate a bit and explain why? $\endgroup$
    – James
    Jul 17, 2016 at 6:18
  • $\begingroup$ @James I updated my answer -- is the level of detail sufficient? $\endgroup$
    – Clement C.
    Jul 17, 2016 at 6:27
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    $\begingroup$ I like the "watercraeft" aspect here, because there are some conceptual problems with an advanced society developing where fire is impossible. $\endgroup$
    – mattdm
    Jul 17, 2016 at 6:39
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I'm not really sure I have a lot to add. Popular fantasy/mythological races have already been suggested, and I've seen quite a bit of real-life contenders to base it off of. So, let me try add my perspective.

First off, why only one? Does this one race dominate any other contenders? You could, for example have a 'natural race' (i.e. highly evolved octopi) and their once upon a time predators? Sharks? Eels? Perhaps the mermaids or sirens you're tying not to give the edge to? It could create a natural and primal tension between the two, given the octopus's natural instincts would be screaming profanities in this age old predator's presence.

Perhaps you could even go another route? Like two (or more) intelligent species coming together and creating a symbiotic civilization?

However, let me point out that fire was vital to human civilization for evolutionary reasons. Meaning, that once we found a way to control fire and cook our food, it allowed us a more robust source of protein and calories. This does not have to be the case for other species.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/why-fire-makes-us-human-72989884/?no-ist http://bioscience.oxfordjournals.org/content/59/7/593.full

This doesn't have to be the case for other species. Especially aquatic ones, for obvious reason. HOWEVER! You could decide to go for something more interesting (if fire is that big a deal to you), like magics (if you want the fantasy route) or the underwater volcano that was already suggested (if you want sci-fi or a more naturalistic route).

Yes, I will fully agree that tool usage does set humans apart. But if a species can do something naturally, they would not need it. Though, this does bring up the question of why they would evolve to 'need' intelligence on that level (meaning: why intelligence would become a desirable trait when selecting a mate, if you go with evolution and natural selection).

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You might look at the whale creatures in Prostho Plus.

  • Using an internal body cavity as an air filed area with prehensile appendages. It's hard to do much tool using in the water.

  • Using gills to filter metals as mining is different otherwise.

  • A dominant race no longer fears any predators.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is a bit short, can you please add some more details? $\endgroup$ Jul 17, 2016 at 8:59
  • $\begingroup$ The details make the originality of the story. For example, are the appendages simbiotes? Maybe a story of when the leviathans were less intelligent and crewed as living vessels. As time marched on, the crew slowly morphed until they became true simbiotes with the leviathan functioning as a true species. Or another story entirely. $\endgroup$ Jul 18, 2016 at 18:41

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