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Intelligent Lifeform Index

Four Letter Code KELP
Federation Status Friendly
Planet of Origin Kaminar
Encountered DIS: The Vulcan Hello
T/E Rating T0/E0
Current Tech Level
List of Named Kelpiens

Full ILI GalleryPermitted Species Gallery

The Kelpiens are a humanoid species located in the Alpha Quadrant.[1]

Home System

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  • Location:
  • Proper Name: Kaminar
  • Star:
  • Distance from Star:
  • Companions: 6 planets[2]
  • Moons: 2

Home World

  • Proper Name: Kaminar
  • Diameter:
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  • Classification: M class
  • Surface Water:
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Long ago in their planet's history, post-vahar'ai "evolved" Kelpiens nearly drove the Ba'ul to extinction before the Ba'ul subjugated them. The Ba'ul retaliated using more advanced technology, subjugating the Kelpiens and eventually integrated a technologically supported ideology into Kelpien society. This ideology, known to the Kelpiens as the "Great Balance", kept them subservient by teaching them that they were a prey species for the Ba'ul. Kelpiens were monitored by pylons installed by the Ba'ul, which they called the Watchful Eye.

In 2257, over 60% of the Kelpien population underwent vahar'ai, breaking the concept of the Great Balance.



Kelpiens have a tall, lanky build, brownish orange skin, and no head hair. Males appear to grow facial hair at an advanced age. Tendril-like threat ganglia splay out from the back of a Kelpien's head when they sense danger. Female Kelpiens typically exhibit smoother skin than males.


Evolving as the prey species on Kaminar, Kelpiens have heightened senses and hyper-vigilance in order to detect approaching danger and flee from it. Besides having more developed senses, Kelpiens have exceptional physical strength and stamina relative to Humans: Kelpiens pursued by apex predators have exceeded speeds of eighty kilometres per hour. Kelpiens possess visual, auditory, and tactile receptors more acute than Humans. They also have a larger optical window and can see far deeper into the light spectrum, including in the ultraviolet. They can also see heat signatures, and sense predators from as much as ten kilometres.

Female Kelpiens develop red spots on their foreheads when they are pregnant.

At some point in their life cycle, Kelpiens undergo a physiological process called the vahar'ai. It is considered unique to their species Vahar'ai is a temporary condition concluding with a Kelpien's ganglia detaching, after which vital signs return to normal. After undergoing vahar'ai, Kelpien fear responses are suppressed and the individual may develop new keratin-based structures in the cartilage previously housing the threat ganglia, and new organs from which a Kelpien could forcibly expel (or "shoot") spines (see dart) which grow from them. These structures extend outward in the same manner as the old threat ganglia in moments of great stress.


Due to being a prey species, Kelpiens tend to prudently avoid risk or dangerous situations, giving them a reputation as being somewhat cowardly. When faced with a novel situation, their default assumption is typically to consider it hostile – i.e., if it's unknown what had destroyed an interstellar relay, and it could plausibly have just been destroyed by an asteroid impact, a Kelpien would first assume that it was hostile action by a nearby threat, until proven otherwise. This does not mean that Kelpiens will enter a fit of panic when faced with danger; rather, when faced with a fight-or-flight situation, they will calmly insist that flight is the wiser course of action.




Kelpiens live in packs, and occupied hut-like houses. Candles are preferred for for light. Fire is also used, by day and by night. They harvest flowers and a type of kelp-like aquatic plant, the latter with nets stitched using needles. Food is eaten using implements and bowls. They possess a spoken and written language. Entertainment includes a game with dice.

Until they became warp-capable, the Kelpien way of life had always been oriented toward death, and their role as prey to the Ba'ul. They were hunted, bred, and farmed by them, believing their role as a prey species to be part of the "Great Balance of Kaminar". Kelpiens were expected to offer their lives to sustain the Ba'ul after reaching vahar'ai. These harvests consisted of the chosen Kelpiens kneeling in a circle of stones beneath the Ba'ul ship, awaiting a bright light, and their ultimate disappearance. Priests explained how this sacrifice tied into the great balance, as well as an entity called the Watchful Eye, which was said to be in the sky. This system was abolished in the mid-2200s, following the revelation of vahar'ai's true purpose as a Kelpien's evolution.


For generations, the vahar'ai was interpreted as a terminal condition signalling a Kelpien was ready to be culled for slaughter by the Ba'ul. It is extremely painful, and Kelpiens undergoing the vahar'ai were once expected to present themselves for culling, which was said to make the pain go away. The alternative was believed to be madness.



Advanced technology occasionally fell off of Ba'ul starships onto Kaminar's surface. However, Kelpien custom dictated that it should be disposed of.


Starfleet Intelligence Files


  1. Kelpien, Memory Alpha
  2. Kaminar system, Memory Alpha
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