A Short Overview on Marine Life in the Caribbean
As a byproduct of the events of the Time of Troubles (particularly the epidemics and the drastic rise in sea levels during the short but extreme greenhouse period), the human population of the Caribbean was greatly reduced, and things like overfishing, habitat destruction, overhunting and several other environmental problems directly caused by human activities, effectively came to an end because of that.
And whilst these events also affected the local wildlife and ecosystems in various (and occasionally detrimental) ways, the relative absence of organized human populations did give the local species and animal populations - and particularly exhausted fish populations - a good opportunity to recover.
But this does not mean that the ecosystems of the Caribbean recovered to the point of re-establishing the balance that existed before mankind established its presence in the region.
Due to the various extinctions, introductions of exotic species, and, more recently, the introduction of genetically engineered species, completely restoring the old ecosystems has become, for all intents and purposes, impossible.
The 'reconstruction' of extinct species (the most famous Caribbean example being the 'reconstructed' Caribbean monk seal) and creation of completely new species through extensive genetic engineering, cloning and other types of biotechnology (and, of course, their subsequent release/escape into the wild), particularly had a major impact on the ecology of the Caribbean.
In the century preceding the Fall, when reconstructing extinct species and the creation of new species had become feasable, the reconstruction and so-called "neogenesis" projects became the subject of not one, but several great controversies.
The Thylacine reconstruction project met with great resistance, up to the point that, once the project had succeeded and had produced healthy, living thylacines that even had a modicum of (artificially created) genetic diversity, several groups and even national governments demanded that the reconstructed animals would be exterminated.
Only a few major universities and scientific organisations actively supported reconstruction projects, and there was even less open support for the neogenesis projects, which were controversial to the point that they were even outlawed in several countries.
The resistance from religious groups was even worse; the only significant religious movement that endorsed and supported both the reconstruction projects as well as the neogenesis projects, was the Church of the Thousand Rites (which took no small part in these projects - the Church historically emphasised the importance of making advances in all forms of biotechnology ).
Eventually, an uneasy agreement was made, and various Western nations adopted laws that permitted neogenesis projects, albeit only under the most stringent conditions - in other words; only in completely isolated biospheres .
After the legalisation of neogenesis projects, several major bases/compounds were built for the purpose of supporting and housing neogenesis projects, as well as simpler, more accepted forms of genetic engineering.
A few decades before the Fall, a handful of such compounds were created in North America. The most important compound, which several state of the art biodomes, was located in Utah, about thirty kilometres from Salt Lake City. Two other important compounds were located in the Mojave desert and southern California, not far from Santa Maria.
Less important neogenesis compounds were located on Victoria Island , Canada; Jagged Island, the Bahamas; and on some islands of the archipielago de los Jardinas de la Reina, Cuba.
Contact with the Great Salt Lake compound was lost when the Utah Ring disaster happened, and the Santa Maria compound was wrecked by the earthquakes and other geological activity that happened in the wake of the Utah Ring disaster. The fate of the Mojave Desert compound is unknown; the facility may have been shut down, but there is a small chance that the facility's core systems are still active.
Only the two Caribbean compounds are known to have survived the events of the Fall, and research and the development of new species continued here in the decades afterwards.
And the fact that the post-Fall political developments resulted in North America becoming largely isolated from the rest of the world gave the Caribbean compounds the opportunity to perform neogenic experiments on a much larger scale, even including experiments that involved deliberately enhancing the local ecosystems by releasing carefully designed neogenic species.
Today, the many new and/or enhanced species have adapted themselves to their new environment, a new food chain has been formed, and the ecosystems in the region have found a new balance.
This article will give a short description of the more notable marine and amphibious species now found in the Caribbean.
The coral reefs of the Caribbean, already stressed by various factors before the events of the Fall, suffered a lot from the rapid rise and fall of sealevels during the short greenhouse period and the beginning of the new ice age, but against the more pessimistic expectations, most coral species survived, and the coral reef-based ecosystems have recovered rather nicely.
The general fish populations have recovered rather nicely as well, and even large predatory ray-finned fish like great barracudas, tarpons and tunas have become common once more.
There is a number of neogenic fish species in the region, the most notable of them being the giant tarpon (Megalops maximus
), which has a maximum size of five metres, as opposed to two metres, which is the maximum size of the natural tarpon species.
The shark populations were hit even harder by general overfishing, hunting, and changing sealevels before and around the time of the Fall. But in spite of the odds, and thanks to a number of environmentalist projects and attempts to save specific species, most shark species survived, and the surviving populations have recovered at this point.
Notable surviving shark species in the modern Caribbean are sandbar sharks (Carcharhinus plumbeus
), blacktip sharks (Carcharhinus limbatus
), Caribbean reefsharks (Carcharhinus perezi
), bullsharks (Carcharhinus leucas
), hammerheads (Sphyrna lewini
& S. mokkaran
), makos (Isurus oxyrhynchus
), great whites (Carcharodon carcharias
), tigersharks (Galeocerdo cuvier
), and whale sharks (Rhiniodon typus
With a maximum lenght of 18 metres, the whale shark is one of the biggest animals and by far the biggest shark in the Caribbean, while the biggest predatory sharks are the great white and the great hammerhead (both reach a good 6 metres in lenght) and the tigershark (around 5 metres in lenght).
The sharks most dangerous to human beings are the great white, bullshark, tigershark and mako, though most of the sharks listed above can be dangerous to humans given the right circumstances.
Also worth mentioning are the cookiecutter sharks (Isistius
sp.), which live in deep water but frequently feeds on the flesh of large deepwater fish and cetaceans. They feed by litterally biting a chunk of flesh out of their (much larger) prey, after which they quickly flee. Many whales and large fish in the Caribbean bear visible scars from Isistius
There are no known neogenic shark species or populations in the Caribbean, though random mutations, especially among the larger species, are not uncommon.
And like the sharks, many of the cetacean species that reside in the Caribbean or frequent it on their migrations, survived the ordeals of overfishing, overhunting, pollution and other consequences of human activities thanks to rigorous conservation efforts (though in many cases, only by a hair's breadth).
And even though their populations had been (greatly) reduced at some point, most cetacean species in the region managed to survive the climate shifts and sealevel changes that began around the time of the Fall.
Today, dolphins like the common dolphin (Delphinus delphis), striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba), and spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis
), along with Burmeister's porpoise (Phocoena spinipinnis
), once more maintain stable populations throughout the Caribbean.
In addition, humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae
) come to the northern Caribbean to reproduce, while blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus
), fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus
), and sei whales (Balaenoptera borealis
) also commonly frequent the Caribbean. Minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata
) and Bryde's whales (Balaenoptera edeni
) are now fairly common throughout the Caribbean, and maintain a few resident populations here.
The false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens
) is a fairly common resident predator in the present day Caribbean. The Caribbean population of this species appears to be in the process of adapting to life in shallow seas and coastal waters. At an average lenght of 5-6 metres, it is one of the larger predators in the region, and it is one of the few predators that regularly hunts sharks and marine mammals.
True killer whales (Orcinus orca
) are also found in the Caribbean, but are less common, and they're typically migrating populations that follow the whales or 'visit' the breeding colonies of the local pinnipeds and giant seabirds.
In addition to the 'regular' cetacean species, there are also numerous reports of mutant cetaceans - particularly whales and false killer whales.
Exactly what cause these mutations, and wether they really are natural mutations (as opposed to results or side effects of genetic engineering) is not known.
There are theories that these mutations are a long-therm effect of inbreeding, which could very well be the case among some of the large whales that were driven uncomfortably close to extinction during the 20th century. Another credible theory is that the many radioactive particles and mutagens that were released into the environment due to the events of the Fall have found their way into the food chain, and are accumulating in long-lived plankton eaters and top predators like whales and killer whales.
Most of these mutant whales are abberant individuals, and there are virtually no known breeding populations with a single or several defining mutations.
However, there is at least one case of what appears to be a mutant breed of dolphin - it's known as the 'eared dolphin', due to often brightly coloured, fin-like structures behind its eyes that are vaguely ear-like.
There appears to be a stable population of eared dolphins, but they haven't yet been studied enough to determine wether they are natural mutants or an undocumented neogenic species.
Seaturtles are another group that managed to survive the pre-Fall human era by a hair's breadth. And climate change as well as the events of the Fall also took their toll on what was left of the Caribbean sea turtle species.
Three species of the Cheloniidae
are now fairly commonly found in the Caribbean, along with the leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea
) which was once on the brink of extinction, survived thanks to rigorous conservation measures, and now breeds throughout the northern Caribbean once more.
However, the abundance of predators like tigersharks, devil seals, false killer whales, and large Caribbean crocodiles (which mainly go after juveniles) appears to be preventing the leatherbacks from becoming common throughout the Caribbean.
The most prominent sea turtles in the modern Caribbean are the herbivorous green turtle (Chelonia mydas
) and the Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea
), which feeds mainly on shellfish and other invertebrates.
The modern Caribbean also has a rich diversity of seabirds, including various species of cormorants, pelicans, seagulls, albatrosses, and various other birds.
However, the Caribbean birds that stand out the most, are those that belong to about half a dozen neogenic species.
There's two main types of them; the first is derived from grebes; the spearfisher grebe and the Bahaman giant grebe (Ensiornis dolichocervix
& E. bahamiensis
), and the reef grebe (Parapodiceps caribiensis
). The second type is derived from mergansers; the giant flightless sawbills (Erosorostrum cubensis
& E. pelagicus
), the Aruban giant merganser (Paramerganser arubensis
) and flying giant merganser (P. volans
These birds have in common that they are unusually large and heavy; the two smallest species of them, the reef grebe and flying giant merganser, are about the size of a mute swan, and they have an average weight of 20 kg and 12 kg respectively. The giant sawbills and Aruban merganser have an average weight between 120 and 150 kg, the giant grebe has an average weight of 190 kg, while the spearfisher grebe is the heaviest of them all with an average weight of 220 kg.
The giant sawbills and giant merganser have an average bodylenght between 1.5 and 1.8 metres, while the giant grebe and spearfisher grebe both have average bodylenghts of 2 metres and 2.4 metres respectively.
In the ecosystem of the modern Caribbean, these giant seabirds fill the ecological niche that's occupied by furseals and sealions elsewhere, mainly hunting fish and squid in coral reefs, shallow water or open sea.
The reconstructed Caribbean monk seal
- distinct from M. tropicalis
, the historical Caribbean monk seal) was first released in the Caribbean three decades before the Fall, and managed become a common and successful species throughout the Caribbean in the centuries after the Fall.
The female reconstructed Caribbean monk seals reach sizes up to 2.50 metres long with a maximum weight of 350 kg, while the males can be as big as 3 metres and as heavy as 420 kg.
The seals avoid direct competition with the giant seabirds due to the fact that the seals are primarily bottom feeders and that they typically feed at greater depths (up to 500 metres), while the giant seabirds typically feed on free swimming fish closer to the surface.
The monk seals and giant seabirds typically tolerate eachother's presence, up to the point that they even regularly nest in eachother's colonies. This situation has also resulted in an interesting cooperation between the seals and birds; because the birds often stick close to the surface while the seals typically swim close to the bottom, mixed populations that are foraging in the same area will have much better chances at detecting incoming predators like great whites, false killer whales and devil seals.
Monk seals that live in such mixed colonies even use alarm calls that are not used by their counterparts in seal-only colonies.
The West Indian Manatee
) is one of the large marine herbivores that lives in the modern Caribbean.
It is largely identical to its pre-fall counterparts, except the modern populations reproduce faster (modern Caribbean manatees give birth to twins rather than single calves), live in herds of up to a dozen individuals (pre-Fall manatees were generally solitary), and have developed an instinctive fear for many predators that are now common throughout the Caribbean.
Their main predators are orcas, false killer whales, great whites, tigersharks, and devil seals. Caribbean saltwater crocodiles hunt them on rare occasions, though they're generally not accustomed to hunting and eating prey as heavy as adult manatees, which can reach lenghts of over 4 metres and be as heavy as 1,500 kg.
The Caribbean hippo
) is a neogenic species of hippo that's adapted to an amphibious life in brackish and salt water.
They're a very successful species in the modern Caribbean due to their ability and willingness to swim from island to island. They mainly forage on land, and they occasionally graze seagrass and other marine plants in shallow waters. It should be noted that grazing in shallow waters seems to become more common among Caribbean hippos.
They're generally between three and four metres in lenght, and have an average weight of about 1500 kg. The males are generally a bit bigger and heavier than the females, and like the African hippos they've been derived from, the males keep growing throughout their lives, and old males can reach sizes of over 4.5 metres and a weight of well over 2000 kg. The old male Caribbean hippos don't generally grow as large as their African counterparts, though.
Caribbean hippos generally live in herds of one to two dozen animals. They're aggressive animals, and generally won't tolerate other large animals near their herds. Monk seals and giant seabirds will usually stay away from them, and crocodiles and seamonitors are often attacked without provocation. Careless humans will be attacked as well, though they'll generally stay away from small boats.
Caribbean hippos typically dwell in coastal regions, shallow waters and estuaries, though they're known to follow rivers deeper inland on large islands like Cuba and Hispaniola. They generally won't venture into deeper water, and they'll only leave shallow waters when migrating from island to island. They're very common on the Antilles, the Bahamas, and the coasts of Florida, they're also found on the mainland coasts of the Mexican Gulf and the Caribbean Sea, and they've been known to swim up the Mississippi.
Caribbean hippos are preyed upon by great whites, tigersharks (who mainly go after juveniles), false killer whales, orcas and devil seals. Of these predators, devil seals are by far their worst enemies, as it is the only predator in the Caribbean that is a threat to hippos on land as well as in the water.
The Caribbean mangrove sloth
) is an animal about two metres in lenght, and with an average weight of about 200 kg.
These very unusual animals were created from two-toed tree sloths of the genus Choloepus
. In spite of their size, they're still somewhat capable of climbing trees. They typically inhabit mangrove forests like those in the Bahamas, and along the coasts of Florida, Cuba, Hispaniola and Jamaica, though they occasionally live on beaches and small islands as well.
They typically climb into the roots of large mangrove trees, where they rest and sleep, just above the surface. However, as the species is gradually increasing in number and is expanding into new areas, it's becoming more and more common for sea sloths to rest on rocks and beaches instead.
Mangrove sloths are occasionally attacked by large sharks, orcas, false killer whales and devil seals. They're capable of short burst of speed that allow them to escape to shallows or land, and they can defend themselves with their large claws, which are similar to those of their arboreal ancestors.
Like their living and extinct relatives, Caribbean mangrove sloth are herbivores, but unlike most of its relatives, it chiefly feeds on marine plants like seagrass, which makes it similar to the extinct Thallasocnus
species, which also fed on marine plants, but were more adapted to a marine environment.
The mangrove sloth has a close relative, the Cuban ground sloth (Allocnus sylvestris
), which is the product of the same neogenesis project. Its similar to the mangrove sloth in size and weight, but it's a ground sloth that seldomly climbs trees and primarily lives in the forests and brushlands of Cuba.
The Caribbean saltwater crocodile
, which is in the process of evolving into a distinct variety of the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus
), has also become common throughout the Caribbean.
With a maximum lenght of a little over six metres, it is one of the larger predators in the modern Caribbean. It differs from the 'regular' American crocodile in that it prefers coastal waters and typically hunts on reefs, in coastal waters, and occasionally in open sea.
It's primarily a fish eater, though they're opportunistic predators that will also hunt rats, feral pigs, seamonitors, giant seabirds and monk seals.
Adult crocodiles have very few natural predators - only devil seals, orcas and false killer whales are known to hunt, kill and eat adult Caribbean crocodiles, and all of these predators typically prefer other prey. Juveniles, however, are vulnerable to feral pigs, cats and dogs, mongooses, seamonitors, sharks, large fish (giant tarpons have been known to eat crocodiles up to 1.7 metres in size), birds of prey, and virtually any other predator big enough to kill them.
During mating season, these crocodiles are highly territorial and very aggressive to other large animals - particularly seamonitors, which have the tendency to raid crocodile nests.
) is a common amphibious/marine species of monitor lizard, also known as the Caribbean goanna.
Like other neogenic species, his species is the product of mild genetic engineering, and it combines DNA and features of the Komodo dragon and the Australian goanna. It reaches a size of up to three metres, similar to that of a Komodo dragon, and it's appearance is quite similar to that of other monitor lizards - except for the tail, which is strongly developed and laterally compressed (even more so than in other monitor lizards) and has a high, rounded tip. Like crocodiles, their feet are webbed and have large claws. Their snout is more narrow than that of the Komodo dragon, though their teeth are rather similar.
As their name and the shape of the tail suggest, seamonitors are amphibious, and adults primarily hunt in shallow seas and coastal waters, and tend to migrate from island to island. Young seamonitors live in trees, where they are safe from rats and other predators (including older seamonitors), and feed on insects, while older juveniles typically live on the ground and shore and hunt rats, crabs, other lizards, small fish, etc.
The adults primarily scavenge on the coasts and hunt reef fish, though they'll also hunt land animals up to the size of a goat, and during breeding season they'll raid colonies of giant seabirds and monk seals.
Young seamonitors are frequently eaten by rats, mongooses, cats, dogs, feral pigs, birds of prey and other predators, and the abundance of predators (particularly mongooses) on the large Caribbean islands is thought to be one of the main reasons why seamonitors are relatively rare on these islands.
Adult seamonitors are hunted by tigersharks and devil seals, and great whites, Caribbean saltwater crocodiles, orcas and false killer whales will occasionally kill and eat seamonitors as well.
The top predator of the modern Caribbean is the devil seal
), a neogenic species derived from the antarctic leopard seal (Hydrurga leptonyx
), the only natural pinniped known to prey on other marine mammals.
The proportions of leopard seals and devil seals are roughly similar, though devil seals are overall more robust.
Devil seals have an average adult lenght of 11-12 metres, and an adult devil seal's skull is about 140-150 centimetres in lenght, which is pretty much the same as the skulls of the extinct Zeuglodonts and most large Mosasaurs. Their weight generally varies between 8,000 and 9,000 kg. 
Devil seal skulls are compact rather than elongated, have long, thick and generally overdeveloped zygomatic bones with very large zygomatic arches (which provide the attachment points for their very powerful jaw muscles), and their jaws have strong front teeth and very thick, powerful canines, which average out on about 10 to 13 centimetres in lenght.
Like leopard seals, devil seals can open their jaw unusually wide - about 150 degrees in the case of devil seals.
The third, fourth and fifth molars are large, strong, triangular and serrated, and are designed for breaking the thick bones of marine mammals and cracking turtleshells. Between the canines and large hind teeth is a number of smaller, sharp, prong-like teeth that are mainly used for catching smaller prey like fish.
Their eyes are well-developed, and devil seals hunt primarily by sight both above and below the water. They also have a rather well-developed sense of hearing that even enables them (to an extent) to locate nearby dolphins. But like the other pinnipeds, they do not have anything resembling echolocation.
Like many other pinnipeds, devil seals have a long, flexible, muscular neck, which allows them to grab agile prey like sharks and dolphins more efficiently. They also use their powerful neck to fling captured prey from side to side with enough strenght to break a crocodile's spine (which is also one of their favourite techniques to kill or disable prey - animals like crocodiles, hippos and large sharks can give rather nasty bites when not disabled properly, after all).
As protection against the bites of smaller sharks and pretty much anything else with sharp teeth or beaks, the devil seal's skil is thick, tough, and riddled with cartilaginous fibres. As a side effect, this makes the skin on most parts of their body very hard to penetrate with harpoons or low-calibre bullets.
Devil seals are also known to slam prey with their neck or body, something they do particularly when they feel like playing around with their prey. Devil seals are generally very playful, though they're not very well-known for this thanks to their (well deserved) reputation as bloodthirsty killers.
Like leopard seals, devil seals are usually solitairy, though it's not uncommon for siblings to remain together for a long time, and occasionally males and females stick together after mating season (and sometimes they bond for life). Another thing they have in common with leopard seals, is that they gather in small groups on the beaches during mating season. During these gatherings, the males will fight for dominance, which usually involves bashing eachother with their necks and lenghty 'yawning' and growling competitions.
Unlike leopard seals, devil seals typically give birth to twins, which the mother will protect for about fifteen years. Devil seals seem to have an average life expectancy of 70-80 years.
The devil seal is, without a doubt, the apex predator of the modern Caribbean. It preys on all species of giant seabirds, porpoises, dolphins, large fish (even the giant tarpons), monk seals, sharks (especially the medium-sized varieties, though even great whites are not safe from them), seamonitors, Caribbean saltwater crocodiles, seaturtles (even the leatherbacks), manatees, and pretty much any medium-sized to large animal that gets washed out to sea.
Occasionally they hunt minke whales, and they are also known to attack and kill false killer whales, though devil seals will generally avoid healthy pods of them. Orcas, large whales and whale sharks are avoided alltogether.
Devil seals are also notorious maneaters, up to the point that they are, without a doubt, the most dangerous animals to human beings in the entire Caribbean. Unlike many other predators, they are not incidental maneaters - hunting and eating humans is so common among devil seals, that humans can be considered one of their regular prey items .
They already have the instinct to go after objects that float on the surface, and they will frequently attack the small fishing boats that are commonly used throughout the Caribbean. Quite often, they'll approach a small boat from below, extend their long, flexible neck out of the water beside it, grab one of the people in the boat, and drag or fling the poor sod into the water.
There are also devil seals that have developed special techniques for toppling or capsising small boats - a particularly common technique is to board a boat (especially long boats) on one side so that it capsises. Some of them are also known to immobilize row boats by hitting and breaking the oars with their bodies, or even by grabbing them and yanking them out of the rowers' hands.
Some devil seals even live in harbours, and there are a few individual seals whose diets consist for more than half of humans.
Because of this, devil seals are infamous and well-known among virtually all Caribbean peoples, and they play an important part in the folklore of the Cubayos, Creoles and Garifuna, and the Rastas, Makambas and even the eastern Maroons, in whose territories devil seals are rare, have several legends featuring these 'devils of the deep blue sea'.
There are also a few common stories about rather devil seal-like seamonsters in Nouvelle Anglund. In persuit of the migrating humpbacks, Nouvelle Anglish whalers established a few outposts in the Bahamas over course of the past century, and seeing as devil seals are rather common in the Bahamas, it is quite certain that they encountered them on several occasions.
In fact, so infamous and feared is the devil seal, and so common are the embellished, half-legendary stories about them (which typically make them seem even more dangerous and cunning than they already are, often even attributing supernatural powers to them), that some learned people have speculated that the rarity of marine mutants (like the Kraken that terrorize the coasts of Nouvelle Anglund) in the Caribbean is because of the devil seals' presence.
Marine mutants are, in fact, comparatively rare in the Caribbean, but this is propably more because of the abundance of large predators in general, and large sharks and killer whales in particular. But still, devil seals undoubtly do have a role in the developments that have kept the various strands of marine mutants from establishing themselves in the Caribbean.
Along with the devil seal and reconstructed Caribbean monk seal, there is a third seal species in the Caribbean, the fisher seal
These animals are closely related to devil seals, and they're a product of the same neogenesis project, but they're much smaller than their bloodthirsty cousins, though; their adult lenght is 4 metres, and they don't share the devil seals' taste for red meat either. Fisher seals are specialized in hunting medium-sized and small fish.
All of their hind teeth have long, sharp, prong-like points that are not only very suitable for grabbing slippery prey like fish, but their structure also allows them to be used as a seeve of sorts, allowing them to 'seeve out' fish that would otherwise be too small to hunt in meaningful quantities.
Rather than being robust, like the devil seal, the Fisher Seal is remarkably slender and gracile, and their neck is long and flexible even by pinniped standards.
They're also intelligent, playful and social animals, and quite a few Caribbean fisherman communities allow fisher seals to live with them, though this is mainly because of the fact that fisher seals are pretty good at detecting devil seals, and can easily be trained to warn humans for this.
 the Heterodox Church uses a rather broad defenition for the therm 'biotechnology'; it includes every science that is about using or enhancing living cells or tissue in some way. It even includes cybernetics and psychoplasty.
 for obvious reasons, space stations were ideal environments for such neogenesis projects, and many discoveries about the effects of zero gravity on the behaviour and growth of lifeforms were made thanks to these projects. Neogenesis projects aboard space stations were also commonly used/combined with experiments with artificial gravity and cosmic radiation.
 the Victoria Island base was abandoned even before the Fall, as it was simply too expensive to maintain.
 due to competition and predation, the maximum size of the Caribbean great whites is a little over 6 metres rather than 7 metres.
 the bullshark is by far the most aggressive, while the tigershark is the most prone to hunting and eating humans.
 the lenght of the body minus the lenght of the neck.
 other than humans, that is.
 some of the later Thallasocnus
species were so adapted to the a marine life that they resembled seals and manatees more than ground sloths.
 both are fairly long and curve backwards
 like Komodo dragons, seamonitors are very prone to cannibalism.
a good picture of a (replica of a) leopard seal skull. Devil seal skulls are pretty similar, except for the differences mentioned in the article, and of course, their sheer size - leopard seal skulls are 'only' 35 centimetres in lenght.
 their bodymass and proportions generally put the devil seals on par with gigantic extinct marine predators like the Hainosaurs, who were among the biggest mosasaurs, and the Zeuglodonts/Basilosaurs. Granted, Hainosaurs and Zeuglodonts are estimated to have reached lenghts of 18-20 metres, as opposed to the devil seal's mere 12 metres, but keep in mind that Zeuglodonts and mosasaurs had a long tail that made up nearly half their bodylenght - unlike devil seals, who have a short, stubby tail just like all other seals.
 quite similar to the molars of Zeuglodonts and the teeth of sharks.
 it's still quite possible to kill devil seals with the more powerful handheld firearms out there. It's just that firearms in general are a bit of a rarity in the modern Caribbean...
 the fact that most people in the modern Caribbean are smalltime fishermen that primarily use small boats doesn't help either...
 such outposts were usually abandoned a few years later, propably due to malaria and the periodic raids of Rasta corsairs, though predation by devil seals (which is a real threat to fishermen and whalers that use row boats) propably contributed to this as well.
Another factor is that Anglish whaling expeditions towards the Bahamas became rare after the Kraken attack on Blok Island.
 all lobodontid seals, a group that includes leopard seals and crabeaters, have oddly-shaped hind teeth that can be used for filtering small prey out of the water. Crabeater seals even use this to filter krill out of the water.