Like all lophiiform anglerfishes, monkfishes are voracious ambush predators. Their diet consists primarily of fishes, and when given a choice, they prefer soft-rayed fishes to spiny-rayed species. When the opportunity presents itself, however, they take any prey large enough to engulf. This includes fishes nearly as long as itself. The alternate name goosefish alludes to the fact that the monkfish has been known to engulf marine birds when it enters shallow coastal waters at high latitudes during the winter months. (Cormorants, herring gulls, widgeons, scoters, loons, guillemots, razor-billed auks, grebes, and other diving fowl, such as scaup ducks and mergansers, have all been recorded as stomach contents.) Smaller monkfishes are known to feed on a wide variety of invertebrates, including small lobsters, crabs, squid, and polychaetes.
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