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The Gigantactinidae is one of the most well-defined and highly specialized families of deep-sea anglerfishes. The females are readily distinguished from those of the other ten families of the suborder by having an elongate streamlined shape, a relatively small head and slender caudal peduncle, five pectoral radials, and a greatly prolonged illicium that reaches a length between one and four times standard length. The family includes 22 species in two genera.

As is the case with nearly all ceratioid groups, little is known about the ecology of the gigantactinids. However, recent evidence suggests that this group lives a benthic lifestyle and may even swim upside down while foraging, drifting motionless as the esca lures prey off the bottom (Moore, 2002). ROV Jason, of Woods Hole Oceanographic Insitutue, captured a whipnose anglerfish (Gigantactis sp.) on video (Hawaii-2 Observatory video clips) swimming (see clip fish_gig_1_1) and apparently foraging upside down (see clip fish_gig_1_3).


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