The Summer Isles are famed for a number of reasons, and at the forefront of these is the abundance of both plant and animal life. The waters teems with fish, the forest canopies are rich with birds and monkeys, and through the undergrowth a wide range of animals crawl, hop and slither.
Although by no means an exhaustive list, many of the most well-known species are described below, as well as endemic to the region, or of other particular note.
Special, Strange and Fabled Animals
- The Parrot Prince - Said to have made his home in the centre of the Isle of Birds, the Parrot Prince is a benevolent being, and one of the many gods of the the Summer Isles to take the form of an animal. Said to be capable of taking the form of any feathered beast, but most often appears as a scarlet macaw, a little bigger than a child in size, and speaks in a deep, echoing voice. He is said to be quick-witted, with a passion for playful mockery with those that seek him out.
- Spotted Panthers - A popular export from the isles, cubs of spotted panthers can be seen in bazaar across the Known World. The species is sometimes hunted by the Summer Islanders, who wear strips of the dark fur as proof of their hunting prowess.
- Mottled Lions - Not a lion in the sense of the large beasts that once roamed the Westerlands of Westeros, these predatory cats grow no larger than that of a hunting dog. As the Summer Islanders are not like to hunt the animals of the forest, preferring instead a diet of fish and fruit, mottled lions are typically docile around people, and as such are nearly as highly sought after as their larger cousins, the spotted panther. Depending on the island from which they are caught, their fur may vary from pale sand-like yellows marked with patches of brown to deep reds dotted with points of orange. Regardless, one thing remains the same between all regional variants, their large oval eyes of brilliant green that are thought to give them vision in low light ten or twenty times more acute than that of man.
- Long-Tail - Black and grey in colour, baring the streak of brilliant red that marks them from nose to tip of their tail, long-tail monkeys are a common sight across the islands, and will often approach visitors, seeking fruit and other food stuffs.
- Thorny - More reclusive than their long-tailed cousins, thorny monkeys are light-brown in colour, with a frill of rough fur that runs along their spine. They most commonly inhabit the tops of the canopy, sucking sweet nectar from lotuses and other tropical flowers that grow there.
- Cerulean Whales - Stretching fifteen feet from snout to tail, cerulean whales are often seen in the deeper waters around the islands in pods ranging in number from three to ten. They have not learned to fear humans, and as such are very inquisitive, chasing after Swan Ships and the like as they pass through.
- Blue-Nose Dolphin - A smaller relative of the cerulean whale, blue-nose dolphins are even more inquisitive than their larger cousins. The Summer Islanders have worked out that fishing near where blue-nose dolphins hunt greatly increases their productivity, for the dolphins have learned to use walls of bubbles to pen shoals of glimmerfish into a tight space, making catching them much easier.
- Short-tusked Boar - The Summer Islanders have a coming of age tradition that involves marking a fully grown male short-tusked boar with a staining spot of dye. The closer the paint is placed the the base of the boar's tusks, the great the accomplishment, and many of the island's boars are covered in marks of paint from generations of islanders.
- Dragonhawk - A large predatory bird that sits atop the forest canopy, watching for prey with its highly sensitive golden eyes. With a wingspan longer than a man, and capable of carrying weights up to that of a small child.
- Malachite Kingfishers - A small bird with a beautiful plumage and long coral-pink beak, malachite kingfishers are found along the waterways of the isles, diving into the waters to retrieve small fish and frogs with incredible accuracy.
- Rainbow Lovebirds - Found across the isles, but none more densely than around the Palaces of Love upon the Isle of Love, where they nest in the embracing trees carved to display the appearance of Sallar and Shanta, the Two Halves of the Summer Islander deity of love.
- Scarlet - Capable of growing to be just under three feet long, although much of it is tail feathers, scarlet macaws are amongst the largest flying birds found on the Summer Isles. They make for popular pets through the Known World.
- Blue and Gold - With a belly of brilliant golden-yellow, and a flight-plumage of azure, blue-and-gold macaws are an incredibly striking species living upon the isles. They are very capable of mimicking human speech, and are common in the bazaars and markets of Essos.
- Green-Winged - Similar in appearance to the Scarlet Macaw, but slightly larger and without yellow feathers on their wing, the green-winged macaw are a popular sight throughout the Summer Isles. The current head of the Toda family wears a frill of green-winged macaw feathers around their neck, having taken the bird as their sigil.
- Hyacinth - Boasting the longest feather-tail of any species on the island, the hyacinth macaw is a bird of deep blue-purple, sometimes with a frill of pale blue-grey around its neck. Living on a diet of nuts, seeds and fruit, hyacinth macaws prove popular pets amongst the rich and affluent of the Free Cities.
- Cockatoos - Considered the same family as the macaws of the islands, cockatoos are typically smaller and less extravagantly coloured than their larger cousins. They are often kept as pets by the Islanders.
- Birds of Paradise - Vibrant and famed for their fierce and beautiful courtship habits, the birds of paradise are taken as the sigils of families across the islands.
- Red-Footed Gulls - Found at the coastlines of the islands, where they hunt fish and crabs in the shallows of the yellow and white sand beaches. They nest upon the side of cliffs, leaving an incredibly fertile detritus that is harvested by the islanders for use in fertilising the few crops they keep.
Fish and Marine Life
- Sea Turtles
- Hawksbill - A moderate size turtle, hawksbill turtle's shell have an amber background patterned with an irregular combination of light and dark streaks, with predominantly black and mottled-brown colours radiating to the sides. Their shells are used as the basis of the shields that the Summer Islanders use in their ceremonial duel-wars.
- Leatherback - The largest of the all turtles in the Known World, baring the Old Men of the River found in the Rhoyne, leatherback turtles come ashore to nest, and whilst some islanders hunt the eggs for a source of food, other families protect them, believing the leatherbacks to be amongst the most prized creations of Maq, Guardian of the Waves.
- Pricklefish - Capable of expanding their size dramatically when threatened, pricklefish are shunned by all but the largest of predators. White sharks have learned to bite the squat head of the pricklefish to stun it before it can inflate by drawing in water through its gills and mouth, allowing them to consume the fat-rich flesh in relative ease.
- Sailfish - Most commonly seen as a frill cutting through the waves with great pace, sailfish are predatory fish longer than a man that catch their prey with startling speed and grace. Many families used their fins to create hand-fans to stave away the heat of the day.
- White Shark - The largest predatory species that inhabits the waters around the isles, white sharks patrol the reefs in bands of up to thirty individuals, although most activity happens during the dawn and twilight hours of the day. Light grey in colour, with white-tipped fins and underbelly, they can grow to over ten feet in length, although most reach around five or six feet in reality, a size that is still formidable.
- Goliath Shark - A floating behemoth that can grow to the length of a merchant cog in size, goliath sharks are gentle giants that are solitary in nature, rarely being seen in pairs. They swim slowly along the surface, filtering the warm waters for small fish and other sealife. Their rough skin, a deep blue dappled with a unique pattern of yellow and white dots, is highly sought after for blade handles.
- Swordfish - Famed for its long, blade-like bill, the swordfish is another large predatory fish found in the crystalline-blue waters of the isles. Using its bill to slash at its prey to injure and weaken them, it hunts in the deeper waters near the shelves where the reef shallows give way to the Summer Sea. Their meat is highly sought after by the islanders, whose diet is primarily that of fish and fruit.
- Glimmerfish - Just one of the innumerable tropical fish types found amongst the shallow reefs, glimmerfish are so named for their lustrous scales, which catch and scatter the light as it pierces the surface. Maesters that have studied the species of the Summer Isles say this is to dazzle their predators, allowing them to escape to live another day.
- Sunset Ray - From above, the sunset ray is an unassuming species, a flat fish that rests at the seabed, blending into the sand with its pale brown dorsal colouration. Its underbelly however, is a brilliance of orange, red and pink, thought to be used in their bizarre and secretive mating rituals.
- Duskfish - A common meal throughout the islands, duskfish produce a lean and versatile meat that is pale orange in colour, which the islanders claim is due to their diet rich in rose shrimps and crimson crabs. The fish itself is approximately the size and shape of an outstretched hand, and found in great shoals that circle in the shallows.
- Black Eel - Growing to a typical length of two feet, black eels inhabit the caves and crevices formed by the spaces between rock and coral, waiting for worthy meals to pass by, from where they lunge, catching them in a mouth filled with small serrated teeth.
- Red Eel - A common sight in fishmarkets in Tall Tree Town, Lotus Port and Ginger Palm Bay, red eels are a staple of Summer Islander diet. They are often served in a stew, mixed with chunks mango, banana and root vegetables.
- Striped Eel - The largest eel variety found in around the isles, striped eels can grow to lengths in excess of six foot, if tales are to believed. They prey primarily on smaller eel species, particularly black eels, claiming they hiding places for themselves.
- Conqueror - With a leg span of over four feet, conqueror crabs are greatly sought after by the Islanders for their delicious flesh and chitinous shells, which are shattered with a stone and used to make arrow heads.
- Leopard - Easily recognisable with their shells of dappled brown and black, the carapaces of leopard crabs are commonly used in jewellery throughout the islands, with large shells being worth as much as opals and topazes.
- Crimson - One of the most common species of the islands, crimson crabs are preyed upon by many of the larger predators of the isles, from sunset rays, white sharks, frilled divers and red-footed gulls
- Green-Bellied - Named for the brilliant streak of green on their ventral surface, green-bellied crabs are found in the shallows of the islands, and seem to thrive in both freshwater and saltwater alike. They are commonly served in their shell, and eaten with coconut and pineapple.
- Lobster - Several types of lobster can be found through the isles, the palmleaf lobster found primarily in the azure waters surrounding Koj and Walano, the mummer lobster that decorates itself with pieces of coral and the king lobster with its ring of yellow colouration around its eyes are the most well-known of these.
- Rose Shrimp - Growing to the size of a man's finger, rose shrimp are considered amongst the delicious of all the sealife that can be caught around the island. Typically served on a platter of goldenheart leaves and eaten fresh and raw, rose shrimps are enjoyed by man and beast alike, throughout the Summer Isles.
Reptiles, Insects and Miscellaneous
- Sun Lizard - Covered in scales of pale-cream, sun lizards can grow to be the length of a man's forearm. They are often found atop rock formations and trees, soaking in the warmth of the sunlight, before hunting for the insects and rats upon which they prey.
- Frilled Diver - Possessing a large ridge of skin that can be moved by the muscles of the lizard's neck, the frilled diver reside along the beaches of the islands in great numbers, hunting the waters for shellfish attached to the submerged rocks. The frills are used in their mating rituals, which occur annually.
- Narrow-Snouted Crocodile - Not dissimilar from the lizard-lions of the Neck of Westeros, narrow-snouted crocodiles reside in many of the slow-flowing waters of the islands, often asleep at the riverbed until a worthy hunt is presented to them. Fiercely territorial, they will chase boats that pass through their domain.
- Golden Lancehead - Bright yellow speckled with white, grey or black markings, golden lanceheads are often found in the undergrowth of fallen leaves. Their poison paralyses the lungs, causing the target to stop breathing.
- Giant Water-Snake - This dull coloured species is found within bodies of water, and constricts its victim with each inhalation, until they unable to breath. It then consumes its prize whole. The largest individuals are known to actively hunt and eat narrow-snouted crocodiles.
- Silvertongue - Named for the eye-catching colouration of its tongue, which flickers from a pair of black lips to taste the air, the silvertongue is often found in the low-hanging branches of hardwood trees, from which it hunts birds and bats.
- Empress - Despite the grand title, empress spiders are amongst the smallest species found on the island, residing primarily in the leaves and branches of the thick canopies above, where they hunt frogs and mice. Primarily dull purple in colour, their legs are striped orange and grey.
- Birdcatcher - Covered in a downy-like fur, the birdcatcher spider is the largest of the island, capable, as the name suggests, of catching birds in its thick, resinous webs.
- Widowmaker - With spindly legs and a large, bulbous abdomen, the Widowmaker is an intimidating sight for any creature or islander who stumbles too close to their large webs. Like all spiders, they are considered servants of Isana, the Spider-God, and their deadly nature has garnered them the role of his principle henchmen in tales and stories of the Summer Isles' creation.
- Hunter's Bane - It is not uncommon for the hunter-gatherers of the island to find hunter's bane spider eggs upon their prize when it falls from the tree branches after being stunned by an arrow. The spider's eggs poison the meat, and as such very few will eat the catch, opting to burn it instead, forcing them to continue the hunt.
- Bronze Orb - Creators of webs that glimmer like spun bronze, bronze orb spiders are highly sought after, and their silk collected to craft cloaks for the extremely wealthy of the island. The work is highly time consuming, for the spiders can only spin so much silk, but the end result is considered to outweigh the production cost.
- Flying Insects
- Stinging Fly - Irritating, but small enough to be largely ignored by those sensible enough not to build their home directly at the water side, there are thought to be over ten different types of stinging flies alone on the island, a number dwarfed by the amount found in the jungles of Sothoryos.
- Vampire Gnat - Considered a pest by the islanders, the vampire gnat is the amongst the smallest of the types of stinging flies found on the island, but amongst the most irritating. Introduced to Lizard Head by corsairs from the Basilisk Isles, the species swarms livestock, leaving goats covered in weeping sores from which blood and pus ooze.
- Greenbottle Fly - The Summer Islanders recognise the importance of the greenbottle fly in the cycle of life, for their maggots, in conjunction with a number of other creatures, keep the island clean of rotting carcasses of animals both great and small that may otherwise spread disease.
- Winestain Fly - So called because after a bite from a Winestain Fly, a bruised area of skin develops that is deep and red, not dissimilar to a spillage of Dornish Red. The bite itself is not harmful, beyond being somewhat itchy, but the pigmentation can persist for a number of weeks.
- Violet-Wing Bee - Fat and heavy, violet-wing bees can grow in size to that of a fingerbone and hum around the island, carrying pollen and nectar from flower to flower. It has been noted that the male bees emit a higher pitched frequency than the females, although few females ever leave the hives. Their honey is thick and sweet, the flavour varying slightly depending on the flowers in the area.
- Pearl Beetle - With a pearlescent shell that gives the insect its name, pearl bettles are most commonly found amongst the bark of felled trees, feeding on maggots, worms and smaller beetles. The bite of the pearl beetle is said to be exquisitely painful, even more so than that a warrior ant's.
- Golden Stag - A large type of beetle with a carapace that catches the light with a brilliance and splendour comparable to that of the precious stones mined on Jhala. It is the chosen symbol of the Dol family, who rule over the island of Moluu from the Mango Grove, the biggest settlement on the island.
- Warrior Ants - Thought to be the most populous singular species on the island, warrior ants living in colonies of imaginable large number, primarily built beneath the supple fertile dirt. They sweep through the forest, gathering mushrooms, fallen fruit and even dead insects, frogs and other small creatures.
- Purple Aster - A gird of purple petals around a core of yellow pollen, the purple aster is commonly used in the flower garlands used by many of the islanders in their ceremonies and celebrations. Traditionally associated with maturity and knowledge, they are worn in the hair of those that have spent a number of years serving in the Palaces of Love upon the Isle of Love.
- Zhoza's Lily - A collection of thick waxy leaves around a long orange-streaked flower, Zhoza's lilies are named for the Goddess of the Waters. Amongst the folds of the plant rainwater collects, creating pools of water in which frogs lay their eggs, safe from predators that might seek to eat them.
- Day's Dawn - A burst of colour amongst the green and brown undergrowth, day's dawn grow in clumps of orange and yellow where the sunlight reaches the forest floor. Their pleasant scent is said to be most potent at the break of day, when their petals first open in response to the morning light.
- Black - On closer inspection, the petals of the black lotus are not true black, but instead a deep purple. The nectar of the black lotus is often added to stews and soups, owing the rich flavour of the syrup which is often compared to the bark of the cinnamon tree. They are often found growing in the canopies of the hardwoods that have made the Summer Isles wealthy through logging and export.
- Sweet - Found in great abundance in the northwest of the island, giving the Sweet Lotus Vale its name, sweet lotuses come in a great variety of colours, each with their own distinct scent. It is said that those of yellow, red and orange colouration carrying a more cloying scent that the purple and blue variants.
- Rose - A small and delicate flower that sits atop a narrow stalk of brilliant green, the rose lotus has been taken as the sigil of many Princes and Princesses of the isles over the centuries. The pink-tinged petals can be seen flying proudly above many of the Swan Ships that leave the isles.
- Moonflower - Growing from cracks in rocks, the moonflower is a hardy species of flower found across the isles, but particularly so on the Singing Stones, where the winds dance through the holes in the mountains and crags. The flowers themselves are pale cream marked with lines of deep blue and grey.
- Ginger Palm - Growing to about twice the height of an average man, the ginger palm is a common type of tree found throughout the isles. With a trunk banded brown and cream and leaves wide and brilliant green, it is frequently used in construction, particularly on Omboru, where they are most populous. They give their name to one of the two large port-towns on the island, Ginger Palm Bay.
- Rosewood - The namesake of the other port-town on the isle of Omboru, Rosewood Harbour, the rosewood tree produces timber with a delicate pink hue that is highly sought after across the Known World. The softest of the exotic hardwood than have made the islands rich, rosewood is easy for even the most novice carpenters to work with, although few would be allowed, giving its high cost.
- Goldenheart - The wood that has made the isles famous, and their Swan Ships feared by corsairs and pirates alike, goldenheart wood is most well-known for its construction in producing bows without equal, baring perhaps dragonbone. Found deep in the tropical forests of Jhala and Omboru predominately, small clusters of the trees can be found throughout the isles.
- Ebony - A dense black hardwood, ebony is dense enough to sink in water, and as such its role in the production of ships is limited to the decorative finishings. It is finely-textured and has a very smooth finish when polished, making it valuable as an ornamental wood, and thus it fetches a high price through the Known World, where it is frequently used to make high-quality cyvasse pieces.
- Blue Mahoe - Considered quite attractive with its straight trunk, broad green leaves and hibiscus-like flowers, blue mahoe trees are so named for the blue-green streaks that run through the wood when polished to a fine grit. It grows quite rapidly, often attaining 20 metres or more in height in just a few years. It blossoms in flowers that change colour as the tree itself matures, going from bright yellow to orange red and finally to crimson.
- Cocobolo - Unlike some of the other trees of the isles, only the heartwood of the cocobolo is used, which is typically orange or reddish-brown in colour, often with a figuring of darker irregular traces weaving through the wood. The sapwood is a creamy yellow, with a sharp boundary with the heartwood, and trimmed away before the timber is transported away. The islanders commonly use cocobolo would to produce handles for their hunting knives and spears, as well as bowls and plates for everyday usage.
- Bloodwood - When boiled, the timber of the bloodwood tree leeches a vibrant pink-red dye that can be used to stain a wide number of things, from clothing to tapestry, or being added to food to colour it elsewise.
- Mahogany - the straight-grained, reddish-brown timber of the mahogany tree is useful for a number of tasks, particularly the construction of houses and their furnishings. It is especially popular amongst the wealthy of the Free Cities, who often use mahogany as the wood of choice for chairs, tables and cabinets to fill their manses.