Ocean-girdled Sembla, also known historically as Utavurk, can put in a good claim to be the aquatic reptile capital of the galaxy. The warm, shallow seas dotted with sandy, volcanic islands and atolls are a haven for reptile life, providing ideal conditions for incubating eggs and raising young. So much so, in fact, that reptiles are the dominant life form on the planet. Reptiles have evolved into myriad forms to fill in almost all ecological niches available to vertebrates, from tiny multi-coloured lizards flitting among flowers sipping nectar with long hollow tongues, to massive ocean-dwelling predators forty meters in length that hunt the shallows, tearing prey apart with jaws longer than an adult Wookie is tall. There are few non-reptile forms of higher animal life, although the planet’s invertebrate life thrives, forming the basis of a diverse and complex food chain, with insects, annelid-worms, and flatworm species both numerous and highly varied.
The planet is covered in shallow oceans, mostly less than three hundred meters deep, and in many places no deeper than a tenth of that. With surface temperatures only two standard degrees lower than the Human body, and underwater visibility averaging thirty meters or more, meaning sunlight can easily reach the seabed in many places. A great profusion of coral reefs abounds, breaking the surface to form coral atolls and islands where the nomadic Vurk form temporary settlements to raise young before moving on. Around the equator, spectacular crystal gardens merge with the coral reefs to form some of the galaxy’s most beautiful underwater seascapes, with pillars of golden, rose-hued, turquoise, and lilac crystal vying with the richly coloured corals to draw the eye of divers and snorkelers. A whole segment of the planet’s economy has grown up to support the numerous off-world visitors keen to partake of this natural beauty, and numerous dive-shops, aquatic vehicle rental places, and resorts dot the sea’s edge on most of the larger islands.
The planet’s location, near the end of the Perlemian Trade Route, facilitates visitors from all over the sector and beyond. To maintain this natural beauty, strict environmental protection laws are in place, with the planet’s other major economic activities centering around biodegradable materials, recycling, and new, experimental waste treatment technologies. These have so far succeeded in preserving the planet’s beauty, as well as the ancient subaquatic ruins that exist along the planet’s equator. These ruins, the origin of which is not known to the native Vurk, are a source of speculation and targeted field studies by a number of local and off-world scientific bodies. Local authorities have also foiled at least one unauthorized expedition to the ruins by unknown parties and continue to actively patrol to prevent trespassing and damage to the sites. It is possible that there are some links to the time the planet was part of Xim the Despot's empire around the twenty-fifth millennium BCGT.