Fiji mermaids (FĒ-jē/MER-mād) are water-dwelling fish creatures that resemble small mermaids but, their appearance is deceptive. Unlike true mermaids, they are not sapient and have no actual mammalian traits, which is why Fiji mermaids are not considered to be Chimerical. Adult Fiji mermaids grow to approximately one to two feet long. Fiji mermaids are clever and easily trained, making them popular pets for magi in the south Pacific, where they originate. However, while a juvenile Fiji mermaid is both docile and cute, it can become increasingly aggressive, nasty, or brutish as it matures.
European sailors and colonists were "gifted" Fiji mermaids upon arrival to the islands, and they were considered a novelty and a sign of wealth and influence among European and New World mages. Opportunists mounted expeditions to capture and sell Fiji mermaids to magi of means and the numbers proliferated, making them less exclusive and desired once they were more common. In addition, the Figi mermaids' more aggressive tendencies began to appear. Notable examples include Fineas Gaffney, who, after taking a moonlight swim au naturale in the large fountain of his estate, was found in the morning missing various appendages. See also Mercy Montclair (The One-Eared Witch of Mobile), who was attacked by her pet Fiji mermaid while in an epsom salts soak after a long day of wyvern wrangling. As a result of these two trends, Fiji mermaids were largely abandoned in the mid-19th century by families who had bought them as pets for children. These "free" abandoned Fiji mermaids made their way to the shores of the Americas where they flourished. They are now considered an invasive species and are damaging the cryptid ecosystems off the coast of North and South America.
Fiji mermaids go through three stages of development between birth and adulthood. As larvae they carry with them a yolk-sac which provides nutrition. After developing scales and working limbs they are called handlings, which are typically about the size of an adult human hand. At about 10 months of age, the handling will grow tooth ridges and become an adult. Like fish, Fiji mermaids continue to increase in size as they mature. Fiji mermaids average 3-4 feet in length, though the largest specimen on record was nearly 7 feet long and weighed close to 1,000 pounds. The collective noun for a group of Fiji mermaids is a school.
Fiji mermaid is a local delicacy in the south Pacific, but it has never caught on in the Americas.
Fiji mermaids are native to the south Pacific, but after being released into the wild they have flourished on the east and west coasts of North and South America.
Fiji mermaids appear humanoid from the waist up, but are entirely fish-like in nature. They breathe through gills and reproduce by laying eggs in the same manner as other fish. Male and female Fiji mermaids are easily obtained. Fiji mermaids are omnivorous, eating both animal and vegetable matter, and have been known to scavenge the leftovers of other animals.
All parts of the Fiji mermaid have magical uses, including the bones, teeth, eyes, cartilage, scales, and eggs. Fiji mermaids can be trained and some magi use them as pets or familiars, although Fiji mermaids cannot survive outside of salt water for more than a few minutes.
Of particular effectiveness is the fact that Fiji mermaids are absolutely obsessed with opals. Having a few in a pocket allows for an easy escape for the well-prepared Wizard in addition to some fantastic entertainment, as Fiji mermaids will turn upon each other in savage violence in order to be the one to claim the opal. Visibly wearing opal jewelry in the presence of Fiji mermaids is not recommended.