Further publication of my research on the lost islands of Xogulano. I have now been two weeks on the islands and they show no sign of dropping into the sea. However, I have taken to sleeping at night with a flotation device wrapped around my waist and a flare wrapped in a plastic bag and tied to my wrist.
The fish you see above is one I pulled from a shallow pool between the two major islands. The boatmen were shouting at me not to touch it saying it was poisonous, but I experienced no ill effects. I suspect their superstitions take precedence over logic, and it certainly looks like a fish that could contain bad spirits.
I have named it the lichen fish, because what looked like a number of colourful warts at first, turned out to be lichens attached to its skin.
As far as I can ascertain, it mimics rocks, so that orange sea lichens are attracted to, then it actually farms the lichen. Lichen are a symbiosis between fungi and alga – algae photosynthesize and create food for the fungi. However, once the lichens have attached to the fish, it also gets a meal, absorbing the nutrients through its scales. It’s possible that the lichen benefits too, the fish can swim to shallower waters (which of course shift with the tide) and perhaps give the lichen a mobility it wouldn’t otherwise have.