A wasco (WAS-kō) (also known as a sea wolf) is a strange chimerical creature with the legs, claws, and teeth of a wolf, but the body, tail, and dorsal fin of a dolphin. It is equally comfortable on land or sea.
Wascos have the thick skin of a dolphin and a dolphin’s blowhole. They have a great lung capacity and can remain submerged for up to fifteen minutes before coming up to breathe. Wascos have coloration similar to killer whales, with a white belly and a black dorsal area. For that reason, they are often confused with being part killer whale, but the wasco is more closely related to Risso’s dolphin (also known as a grampus) than it is to a killer whale.
The magical communities within the Haida people, native to the Pacific Northwest and parts north, have allowed the wasco to be part of their lives. While it was not unheard of for wasco to raid their villages, it was more likely for the wasco to be hunted for a feast, or used for their skills at catching food in the water. There are several stories on record of the Haida people repelling attackers from the sea with their “wasco riders.”
Modern day Wizards still command the wasco for transportation or hunting and gathering, but they can use them for political means as well. Ecodefense cryptozoologists have mastered the art of commanding the wasco to disrupt whaling ships, over-fishing, bottom trawling, and to protect the migratory routes of salmon.
Wascos live in social groupings of about 10 to 12 individuals, called pods if they are in the water and packs if they are on land. These groupings change members frequently, with wasco moving from pod to pod as the mood takes them. They hunt as a group, and will come to the aid of other wasco, even those not from their pod.
Occasionally male wasco will fight each other, usually in competition for a mate. Unlike wolves, wasco packs do not have an alpha; they seem to have a more democratic or anarchic system of leadership. Wasco do not have a mating season; gestation tends to last for 13-14 months, with the mother giving birth to 3-5 pups. A wasco reaches maturity in 8 years. The typical lifespan of a wasco in the wild is about 40 years.
Wascos can make clicking noises, like dolphins, and make use of echolocation underwater. They do not vocalize on land, although they have been observed making howling and barking gestures as if they were vocalizing in complete silence. Wascos are extremely clever, and are adept at solving puzzles. Unlike dolphins, they have not been observed using tools in the wild.
A juvenile wasco is called a pup. When on land, a group of wascos is called a pack; when in the sea, a group of wascos is called a pod.
Wascos live in the coastal areas of British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest, which is primarily in Thunderbird Province. They require an area that has both a good amount of cold saltwater and easily accessible land. There is argument between cryptozoologists as to the nature of the wasco. Some claim that the wasco is a sea-dwelling creature that spends time on land; others say it is a land creature that is well adapted for swimming. A wasco does need to sleep on land, but is comfortable spending all its waking moments in the sea.
Wascos have the bodies of dolphins, with the legs, teeth, and claws of wolves. Their main internal organs are similar to dolphins.
Wascos are carnivores. Their diet includes fish and sea mammals, as well as small to moderately-sized land mammals and birds. They are pack hunters, both on land and in the ocean.
Wascos can be commanded to fetch food, and can also be ridden on the land and in the sea (with the proper magical precautions for exposure and breathing). In the past, wascos have been hunted for food, but this has fallen out of favor. Wascos are extremely intelligent creatures and are easily trained. Their claws can be formed into magical talismans that enhance the wearer’s fighting prowess. Their teeth and eyes are also used in spells, charms, and potions. Their paw bones can be used as the cores for wands, which allows for wands that work especially well with water magic.
Wascos are particularly vulnerable to electrical discharges, and a powerful shock sent into water will drive them to withdraw great distances. This does not mean, however, that they will not circle back to attack on land instead. They have a strong preference for tuna, and the choice fish can be used as a distraction or diversion.