AIWHA (STAR WARS)
STAR WARS: Attack of the Clones
Aiwhas, also called air whales, were a non-sentient species of winged cetaceans native to the planet Kamino. They were used as mounts by the Kaminoans.
Biology and appearance
Massive, winged cetaceans, the aiwha were native to both the oceans and skies of the planet Kamino, capable of both swimming and flying using their wingtips to propel them through either substance. Their long, beak-like mouths featured a baleen used for filtering krill from seawater. The non-sentient species, one of a wide variety of aquatic life on Kamino, was also known as the “air whale”, and were a peaceful and majestic species. Aiwha gave out bleating cries when dying.
When the climate of Kamino changed drastically, leading to planet-wide flooding when the ice caps melted, the native Kaminoans adapted both themselves and some of their fellow creatures to their new environment. The aiwhas were among those who were adapted using the Kaminoans’ advanced cloning technologies, and became biological curiosities used as mounts to traverse Kamino’s endless ocean. The Kaminoans used aiwhas as mounts, although aiwha-riders traveled beneath the waters during the lashing tempests of the severe electrical storms which raged for much of the planet’s year.
During the Battle of Kamino, Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi hitched a ride on an aiwha while investigating the planet’s Separatist attackers, and was rescued twice during the battle by the creatures. During the search for the rogue clone trooper CT-5555 (“Fives”), teams rode atop aiwhas to track down the fugitive.
Behind the scenes
The aiwha first appeared in Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones. The concept of an “air whale” was first created by Ralph McQuarrie, for use on the planet Bespin in Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, although budget limitations saw their use postponed. They were later intended to serve as flying whale taxis for Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi, and though they likewise didn’t appear in that film, Star Wars Legends material utilized the concept as the thranta. Terryl Whitlatch redesigned the creatures as Gungan mounts for Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, calling them “aiwha” as a derivation of “air whale”. Although the creatures were again cut until ultimately appearing on Kamino in the following episode.