The Great Canal is a stretch of water connecting the inner sea of the Maw to the Neck. Construction on the Great Canal was completed by the Merfolk in 2276 BE with the assistance of the elder beast, Selcatnet. The Canal cuts straight through the Mandibles, separating the Lower Maw and the Eastern Maw into the distinct regions they are today. The Great Canal is 2000 feet wide at its widest point, shrinking to 1000 feet at its narrowest. It has a depth of around 60 feet.
The Merfolk, interested in trade, had initially built the Great Canal to shorten the traveling distance between their home city of Drolfo's Cove and the Avian continent of Rontu-Aru. Trade groups that went out through the mouth of the Maw and down through the Groshan Sea took several months longer to complete the round trip. Additionally such voyages were beset by storms that either increased travel time or caused entire expeditions to be lost.
The Great Canal allowed for easy access to trade with the Avians. Tortuga was established as a permanent trading post in 2269 BE after the Canal was completed. Unfortunately, the Avians viewed this as an aggressive move. The trade of rare jungle commodities stopped and the exchange of missiles and sword blows began. The Merfolk proved victorious in this centuries long conflict.
The Merfolk control the Avian population. The Avians who trade with the Merfolk are given weapons that allow them to subjugate the other bird folk who do not deal with the people of the sea. In exchange for these weapons the Avians give the Merfolk the same rare jungle commodities that were collected in the past along with thousands of Avian slaves every year. This slave trade is so great that in many languages the word for Avian and slave are practically the same.
The Homestone Bridge was built over the Great Canal in 637 NA. This allowed the Elves an easy escape route from the Hobgoblins with no fear of pursuit due to the Bridge's magic preventing the crossing of any Hobgoblins.
Prior to the Bridge's construction the Canal allowed ships of all sizes to travel through. Unfortunately, the same is no longer true. The Bridge is 120 feet above water at its center. This has little effect on Merfolk ships due to their half-submarine nature. Many Human ships can still pass underneath the Bridge as well. Only enormous carrier vessels are prevented from traversing the Great Canal by the height of the Homestone Bridge.
During the Hykman Civil War the Hykman ships that normally police pirates in the Maw were otherwise occupied fighting amongst themselves. This allowed piracy to increase to the point that Captain Lucrais DeBaal managed to form his own fleet of pirate ships. After the conclusion of the Civil War the Revered Administration, fearing Hobgoblin invasions across the Great Canal, hired DeBaal to patrol the Canal and prevent any such crossings.
Captain DeBaal also prevented any Merfolk from traversing the Canal unless they paid an exorbitant fine. Not wanting to risk war, the Merfolk complied. After negotiations, the fees for traveling through the Canal were reduced, but many Merfolk are still filled with rage burning below the surface that their greatest architectural achievement has been stolen from them.