Having evolved in the oceans of their world, Xelatians were an advanced form of marine life. Xelatians possessed four tentacles on their upper and lower torso, typically four meters in length. Also on their torsos were four gill slots, which extracted oxygen from the water. Xelatians could not survive out of the water for more than seven hours.
Xelatians had a single large, oval-shaped eye capable of seeing the ultraviolet end of the electromagnetic spectrum. As a result of this, normal lighting for most humanoids was much too bright for Xelatians. In order to cope with lighting outside of their aquatic environments, a metal face mask was worn with a slit large enough to see unobscured. The masks also had an ultraviolet light source shining through the eye slit to heighten vision while worn.
Xelatians communicated among themselves using telepathy and the bioluminescent pigment present in the skin. As of 2286, Xelatians required universal translators that interpreted the patterns of the bioluminescent pigment. Eager for further communication with other species, many Xelatians were attempting to train their nasal slits for physical speech.
A Xelatian's skeleton was able to withstand conditions of high gravity as their bodies were accustomed to the ocean pressures of their world. However, movement on land was not possible without the aid of a specially-designed environmental suit. These suits contained an anti-gravity harness and water circulation systems that allowed normal breathing.
A mass of Xelatian sea grass was typically worn atop the head to keep the head hydrated when out of the water.
The Federation made first contact with this race in 2282. The Xelatians were in the process of obtaining membership into the United Federation of Planets as of 2286 and had a delegation present during the "Whalesong Crisis" on Earth. (FASA RPG module: Star Trek IV Sourcebook Update)
By the 24th century, Xelatian personnel have integrated themselves well into Starfleet Marine forces. Xelatian members of the Federation Diplomatic Corps have distinguished themselves well by negotiating several important treaties. (FASA RPG module: Star Trek: The Next Generation Officer's Manual)
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