The squales, a name coined by the crew of the USS Titan as a shortened form of "squid-whales," were sentient marine chordates native to Droplet. They lacked true bones, but had pseudovertebrae made from cartilage. They somewhat resembled small whales, with four facial tentacles and the ability to change their skin color for communication or camouflage. While conventional "technology" was alien to them, to their limited access to metals, they had perfected bioengineering far beyond the species of the Federation, and even designed a form of biological space capsule. (TTN novel: Over a Torrent Sea)
They possess four large tentacles at the front, but they can fold them back along the body and flatten them out for speed. The mouth is beaked, and has two large eyes behind and above it. They have some vents which they use in expelling bubbles from that functions like a cetacean blowhole but also as a kind of jet thruster for maneuvering.
They have strong tails with four flukes which the squales can oscillate in either direction, using one set of flukes or the other for thrust.
Sharing common genetic traits as most Dropletian chordates, the squales have four sexes, two that were roughly male (in that they only donated gametes) and two that were hermaphroditic, exchanging gametes with each other and both bearing and raising young. This adaption is mostly to counter the rate of mutation by diversifying the genetic pool.
For millennia the squales had been exploring their world and beyond. Using living probes adapted from existing lifeforms, they had explored the depths of their native sea and the seemingly endless reaches of the sky.
Thousands of years ago, before humans or even Vulcans had ventured into space, the squales had sent forth their first space capsule into the cold void of space. The capsule's exit beyond Droplet's atmosphere was a success however the occupants became impaired due their dependence on Droplet's magnetic field. Due to this disability the squales retreated from space exploration and focused their efforts on exploring the depths of the oceans and perfecting their bio-engineering techniques.
For countless eons the squales viewed the stars content as passive observers. When Titan's away team arrived on Droplet and began investigating several of the squales' floaters, it piqued the interest in the squales. Curious of these visitors the squales placed several observation pods to monitor the aliens.
The squales lived all over Droplet, though primarily in certain zones, presumably those where the most nutrients were concentrated by the currents.
The squales lived in pods of flexible size and composition, not unlike Earth cetaceans. Some pods consisted of mothers and their young offspring, others of adolescents banding together under the tutelage of unrelated adult males.
The squales social networks were organized around different pods that specialized in different tasks or fields of study: Research, Defense, etc. Transfers into other pods were allowed through apprenticeships, which allowed younger squales to study under their preferred passions and careers. Pods mingled at times periodically aggregate in temporary superpods of hundreds of members for feeding or mating purposes.
- Research Pod
- Defender Pod
- Astronomy Pod
- Animal-Management Pod
- Contact Pod: A newly arisen pod that was the combination of three pods that opened communication with USS Titan's away team.
- Lifemaker Pod
According to squale belief, everything is a song to them. As a species that relies on echolocation to perceive their world, to them their world is alive as it sings to them and they sing to it in return. The squales refer this as the Song of Life, a song where its reflections define the world, make it real, give it form and substance.
In squale cosmology the universe is a song to them. Before the Federation contacted them, they saw their world Droplet divided into three parts, reflecting fundamental overtones of their world and its spiritual significance:
- The World Below (the hypersaline depths): The physical realm, the world of waking.
- The World Between (the regular ocean): The realm of death.
- The World Above (the sky): The realm beyond the physical, the world of sleep. The squales believed that they regularly visit the World Above through sleep, sustaining their spirits as the air sustain their bodies (respiration).
There is no official standard government on Droplet. All matters were debated openly in the deep sound channel forum, the squale form of telecommunications across Droplet, and decided through democratic consensus. It was part of their basic beliefs that all sapient beings had the right to informed self-determination. (TTN novel: Over a Torrent Sea)
Due to the lack of metals needed to create a technological society on their watery world, the squales developed and perfected biological and genetic sciences. Using their skills, they converted and bioengineered various chordate species to suit their needs.
They had ways of cultivating food, mainly breeding livestock like the so-called flaming idiot fish, but also farming some sort of seaweed. They were actually able to create the stable economic surplus necessary for building a civilization, to have the resources and leisure for large-scale activities.
At one point thousands of years ago the squales perfected their living technology to achieve rudimentary space travel. However this field had been neglected due to the disorientation and impairment outside Droplet's magnetic field. (TTN novel: Over a Torrent Sea)