Phaeoviruses infect the brown algae, which are major contributors to primary production of coastal waters and estuaries. They exploit a Persistent evolutionary strategy akin to a K- selected life strategy via genome integration and are the only known representatives to do so within the giant algal viruses that are typified by r- selected Acute lytic viruses. In screening the genomes of five species within the filamentous brown algal lineage, here we show an unprecedented diversity of viral gene sequence variants especially amongst the smaller phaeoviral genomes. Moreover, one variant shares features from both the two major sub-groups within the phaeoviruses. These phaeoviruses have exploited the reduction of their giant dsDNA genomes and accompanying loss of DNA proofreading capability, typical of an Acute life strategist, but uniquely retain a Persistent life strategy.