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Deep-water chaunacid and lophiid anglerfishes (Pisces: Lophiiformes) off the south-eastern United States

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Recent research cruises to deep (80–910 m) reef habitats off the south-eastern U.S. and in the northern Gulf of Mexico have provided new information on the diagnostic characteristics, behaviours, colour patterns in life, bottom associations, distributions and maximum sizes of species of the anglerfish genera Chaunax, Lophiodes and Sladenia. Chaunax stigmaeus occurred much further south than previously known (Blake Plateau off South Carolina), and all C. stigmaeus observed were found associated with dense beds of dead coral (Lophelia pertusa) rubble or on broken hard bottom. In contrast, Chaunax suttkusi was found on soft bottoms. Chaunax stigmaeus and C. suttkusi appear to be sympatric over a major portion of their ranges. Because knowledge of pigmentation in live or freshly caught Chaunax is critical to distinguish some members of the genus, changes in the colouration of C. suttkusi were noted and documented photographically immediately after death and after fixation. The yellow spots found on some, but not all specimens, temporarily disappeared completely after death, but they reappeared after fixation, slowly disappearing thereafter along with other carotenoid pigments. Lophiodes beroe and Lophiodes monodi were collected for the first time off the Atlantic coast of the U.S., being previously known only from the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea and the northern coast of South America. For both species (L. beroe and L. monodi), the collections included the two largest known representatives of the species (400 and 325 mm standard length, respectively). Lophiodes beroe commonly occurred on L. pertusa rubble, and seemed to prefer this habitat. Occupying such a habitat that is deep and difficult to sample probably explains how this common species escaped detection. Only a single L. monodi was collected or observed, so this species appears to be uncommon in this geographic area or at least so on coral rubble habitat. Detailed aspects of the colour patterns of both species were noted. In particular, L. beroe displayed a characteristic pattern of white patches in life that were not apparent after death. The first photographic documentation of the colour pattern in life and of the pharyngeal pigmentation of Lophiodes reticulatus is provided. The third known specimen of Sladenia shaefersi, and the first to be taken in U.S. waters was collected from coral rubble near the base of a steep 200 m scarp on the Blake Plateau.

Keywords: Chaunax; Lophiodes; Sladenia; deep-sea anglerfishes

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: Center for Marine Science, University of North Carolina-Wilmington, 5600 Marvin Moss Lane, Wilmington, NC 28409, U.S.A. 2: U.S. Geological Survey, Florida Integrated Science Center, Center for Aquatic Resource Studies, 7920 NW 71st Street, Gainesville, FL 32653, U.S.A. 3: South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Marine Resources Research Institute, P. O. Box 12559, Charleston, SC 29422, U.S.A.

Publication date: April 1, 2007

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